Sunday January 26 2020
Inter could do with Nainggolan

As Inter host Cagliari, Football Italia Chief Correspondent Richard Hall wonders if the Nerazzurri got it wrong with Radja Nainggolan?

Antonio Conte has his opinions and they often are immovable and steadfast. It is this part of him that makes him so successful, he simply believes in himself. It is hard to argue with the Inter coach and his CEO Beppe Marotta, as the decision to oust Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic has been completely justified. The dressing room seems unified and they now are in a title race. However, could the Nerazzurri possibly have made a mistake with Radja Nainggolan?

There is no hiding that Conte was trying hard to pursue Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal this January. The coach wanted to add some aggression and quality to the centre of the field. He wanted a player who could break up play, start the counter-attack and be a nuisance in the opposition half. He wanted a player who had character and whose willingness to fight would be infectious, but this did not come to pass.

It is perhaps strange however, that Conte was looking for what he already possessed. Radja Nainggolan is exactly in this mould (and no, it is not just because he has similar hair and body art). Nainggolan has been in blistering form since returning to Cagliari. His five goals and four assists in 20 games have come from him operating between a deep lying midfielder and an offensive playmaker. He is motivated and looks in good shape, relishing life back in Sardinia. Things are working out for Nainggolan and could get even better. Maybe his team deserves betting on them in the future games, which means that you can make use of the various betting sites bonus offers found online.

Professionalism has been an issue, that is true. His car crashes, nights out and smoking are well documented, but Vidal is no innocent either. He too has written off a Ferrari in the early hours of the morning. Why would Conte go for him then when he is purging unprofessionalism elsewhere? Perhaps Vidal changed, but perhaps so has Nainggolan? His wife, Claudia Lai, has been battling cancer and this is a huge reason why Radja returned to Sardinia, her hometown. If an event like this cannot focus the mind, then little else can.

Perhaps the argument against a return to Inter is exactly a focusing of the mind. Perhaps Radja sees football now as secondary and that he may want to stay in Cagliari with his wife and enjoy his success with the Sardinian faithful. Why add the pressure and stress of Milan? Why not be the big fish in the small pond? One reason is funding, as President Tommaso Giulini has spoken about the difficulty of retaining the player after the end of his loan spell.

This Nainggolan would undoubtedly be useful for Conte’s Inter, but they’ve put themselves in a situation where taking a step back might seem like admitting a mistake, something neither want to do.

There is still a possibility that the midfielder may return. He certainly has no problems with Conte and recently spoke of the fact that he thought he was “a real man” who said things to his face. Perhaps, if the ‘Mister’ can see that the midfielder has improved both on and off the field then there will be a reunion.

Radja certainly still has the relationship with the Inter fans and thanked them for their support on social media after their Coppa Italia defeat. Perhaps it will take a big performance today against his parent club to really convince the powers that be, to think of him as part of their plans. From the outside, it seems criminal that Inter are looking for something they already have. He fits in perfectly at Cagliari, a club that probably cannot afford to keep him.

Some things are much bigger than football and the hope is that wherever Nainggolan next lays his hat, he feels at home.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit:

Have your say...
I believe that the main catalyst for getting rid of Nainggolan was the arrival of Lukaku.

Lukaku arrived as a young talented but very unfinished product, who have largely preformed below expectation at Man U.

Conte knew that to the get the best out of him, he would need him focused and probably would have to use some tough love.

That last thing that he would need is a fellow countryman of Lukaku, who already had a problem with discipline, being a potentially bad influence.
on the 28th January, 2020 at 7:45pm
on the 28th January, 2020 at 2:18am
I believe Nainggolan's push out the door was by the Marotta and the upper management, and not by Conte. In fact I believe there was an article in August quoting Conte as saying something along the lines of him respecting the club's feelings on the matter. No one knows exactly what happens in the room and in the club off the field so we should consider that overall Inter's new no-nonsense, disciplined approach is a solid step in the right direction. If that means no Radja, so be it.
on the 28th January, 2020 at 2:18am
Ninja was at his peak when at Roma.shamer and surprised athe time he was shipped out. at Inter he could only continue to be clutch and important but as seen this season under Conte hes really not needed. much more needed at Cagliari. hes a smoker and drinker that doesnt fit well displine.
on the 28th January, 2020 at 2:16am
Between Lazio and Inter, Juventus will definitely lose the Scudetto this year...despite the one-sided abysmal referring that is part and parcel of Serie A...Juventus will respond by offering referees better retirement jobs at Agnelli Inc next year...take out Agnellis and bring in impartial referees and EPL and La Liga got nothing on Serie A...
on the 27th January, 2020 at 11:08am
The heading of this article is a mistake. It was supposed to be....... inter should do without.... anything and everything. Forever. Because it is no less than those creatures deserve. Marinez lol typical inter loser. All he had to do was accept the fact that he was dumb for a few seconds and receive his yellow card. But noooo, he had to prove to the world he is just a dumb player playing for a club with 0 integrity and 2010 tactics conte hahahahah haaaaaaaa
on the 27th January, 2020 at 7:09am
The result was fair but delighted that Laturo (at great personal cost) and the management have now escalated the standard of the referee to the highest level. The assistant manager and Handanovic basically told it as it was - just because a player is stronger does not mean they can be fouled with impunity. Return the clown to Sunday league amateur where he belongs.
on the 27th January, 2020 at 5:57am
Nainggalons shot was going straight to the goalkeeper only for the deflection. He IS a mediocre player, injured for 15 games, played well in 3 games? Kicked Inter when they were going thru a bad patch 12 months ago, let join Cagliari for personal reasons Inter paying most of his wages... he is a mediocre player with a mediocre character, and will have major regrets when he retires. Belgium consider him mediocre too. Another Joao Mario for Siberia.
on the 27th January, 2020 at 5:52am
Lol... well timed article, especially considering he scored. Anyway, totally agree with the ingrained flop attitude, it's been there for decades, I still hope they come a close 2nd / 3rd with lazio to keep the pressure on juve, maybe next year they can put in a better showing in the cl for the good of all serie a
on the 26th January, 2020 at 8:09pm
LOL Conte should ask mister silverhair Marcello Lippi how he failed miserably long time ago with many star players in Inter which fully supported by passionated Moratti.

The lesson is clear, you cant teach Juve's winning DNA to a club which has been used to blame everything on referees.
on the 26th January, 2020 at 6:45pm
failure is deeply ingrained in Inter, nothing short of another farsopoli will fix that XD
on the 26th January, 2020 at 3:56pm
Give it a few weeks and they'll blame everything on referees
on the 26th January, 2020 at 3:30pm
Prophetically Nainggolan did score. Martinez got sent off, looks like Skriniar sustained an injury but more importantly Inter didn’t win. This is like the 3rd game or so in a row they have not won. Don’t tell me they are going on their usual wobble at this stage of the season yet again. That will just be incredible for this to happen season after season.
on the 26th January, 2020 at 3:19pm
Wow, the ninja scored the equalizer and was Man of the match certainly.
Sensi and Barella are back to mediocre, actually the former is a disaster.
on the 26th January, 2020 at 2:35pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.