In a football world ruled by money, it’s almost impossible for Serie A players to reject the chance to move to any of Europe’s biggest teams. Sadly, Italy can no longer match the lucrative paycheques and the glamour that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or the Premier League offers, which really makes the decision a no-brainer for most. The Paul Pogba transfer is the biggest proof that even Serie A’s most powerful team cannot match the financial might of Europe’s richest clubs.
After all, who would reject the chance to double his salary and play in one of the biggest clubs in the world? The answer is simple - only a madman. That madman is called Radja Nainggolan, who turned down the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United and is currently on the verge of becoming the next Roma legend.
The Belgian has always pledged his love for the Giallorossi, but considering that in the past couple of seasons he was the best player of a heavily underperforming side, even the most optimistic Roma supporters were slightly surprised by his choice to remain.
Departure for the Premier League would’ve made a perfect sense for Nainggolan, as ex-Cagliari man would’ve finally have the chance to forget his failures with Roma by winning some silverware in England at the age of 29. Instead, the combative midfielder chose to remain and cement his place alongside the likes of Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi and the omnipresent Francesco Totti in Giallorossi folklore.
Luckily for the Ninja, his choice coincided with Roma’s revival, as the Lupi have gone from strength to strength ever since Eusebio Di Francesco inherited Luciano Spalletti’s side. Even though they are currently fourth in Serie A, they still have a game in hand compared to their title rivals and, unlike previous years, this term they seem fully capable of a Scudetto challenge.
Not only that, but Roma also managed to restore some of the club’s lost pride in Europe by topping one the toughest group in this year’s Champions League. The Italians finished above Chelsea and eliminated serial semi-finalists Atletico Madrid. The impressive 3-0 win against the English champions at the Stadio Olimpico symbolises Roma’s European rebirth, much needed after a series of humiliating performances on the Continent.
Roma’s improvement on the field has also been matched by impressive progress off it, as the project for the club’s new stadium is already in progress and expected to be ready in 2020.
The Giallorossi also managed to improve the club financially, as despite losing Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger and Leandro Paredes in the summer, Roma’s new transfer guru Monchi managed to add plenty of young talent and depth to the squad, while still making a healthy profit of €23m. With 21-year-old duo Patrik Schick and Lorenzo Pellegrini, as well as the explosive one-year younger Turkish talent Cengiz Under, Roma have plenty of guarantees for the future.
The current state of the capital club is looking pretty good as well, with Aleksandar Kolarov emerging as an exceptional leader at the back. Alongside the talented goalkeeper Alisson Becker and the rejuvenated Federico Fazio, the Serbian has played a key role in Roma’s incredible defensive record of just 10 Serie A goals conceded this term.
Despite all that, Roma are currently far from a finished article and have a way to go before reaching Europe’s top sides. However, with rumours constantly linking some of Serie A’s biggest stars with lucrative transfers abroad, the Belgian’s choice shows that money is not everything and will hopefully give an example to the likes of Paulo Dybala, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Sadly, the magical days of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti are gone, as football is currently ruled by greedy agents and ridiculous transfer fees. However, Nainggolan’s choice to remain at Roma is proving to be beneficial not only for him and his beloved club, but also for Serie A as a whole.