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Tuesday May 5 2020
Nainggolan's destiny is at Roma

Radja Nainggolan confessed his biggest regret was leaving Roma for Inter, but Martin Mork assures there is still time to make it right at the Stadio Olimpico.

Tradition says that if you stand with your back to the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin into it, you are destined to return to that same spot in the Eternal City. Radja Nainggolan has probably closed his eyes and made that wish a thousand times since leaving Roma for Inter in the summer of 2018, but it’s not too late to fulfil that destiny after a journey of discovery.

The Belgian, who has spent his entire professional career in Italy, left Roma two years ago and followed Luciano Spalletti to the Nerazzurri. But the former Giallorossi coach was sacked in May 2019 and Nainggolan was off-loaded immediately after the arrival of Antonio Conte.

Rather than begin another domino effect of ill-advised transfers, he doubled back and returned to the other club and city where he was happiest: Cagliari. This wasn’t just a football decision, it was a lifestyle one, allowing his wife to be near family after her breast cancer diagnosis. It quickly felt as if he’d never left in 2014, growing comfortably into the role of a leader, even making Sardinia dream of a European berth. With the help of other newcomers like Marko Rog and Nahitan Nandez, and a prolific Joao Pedro stepping up in the absence of Leonardo Pavoletti, the return of Radja spurred the Rossoblu on to match their best start to a top-flight campaign since the Scudetto season in 1969-70.

Fast forward six months and Cagliari are back in the bottom half of the table. Rolando Maran, who seemed a genius only months ago, has been replaced by Walter Zenga – yet to lead the side from the dugout because of the pandemic. Even before the tragic crisis in Italy, Nainggolan would have had to take a massive pay cut to stay in Sardinia. And Ninja is facing another crossroads in the summer.

The experience has changed him, as after living in shadows of others at Roma and Inter, the Belgian finally became the experienced old hand leading the Cagliari midfield. He is precisely the figure Conte is asking for at San Siro and it seems the club could also be prepared to set aside whatever had prompted them to push the Belgian out in the first place.

However, there is an even more intriguing option, as Nainggolan can continue the journey of self-discovery by changing his biggest regret and revisiting that coin in the fountain. It’s the destiny he always wanted, and he’d return matured, like a fine wine. Monday was his 32nd birthday and just as his presence helped Nandez and Rog at Cagliari, he could shepherd the young talents of Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gonzalo Villar at the Olimpico, or Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi at San Siro.

Roma probably need Nainggolan more than Inter do, and vice versa. Paulo Fonseca is a coach better suited to getting the best out of the dynamic Belgian and he’d be welcomed back with open arms by the fans, who blame former director Monchi for shoving yet another favourite out the door. Unlike Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, there is still time for Roma to make it right with Nainggolan. He has a destiny to fulfil, returning to the Capital having aged like fine wine.

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Have your say...
Nainggolan won nothing at roma, moved to Inter with his best friend as coach and won nothing, moved to his comfortable former club once Inter got rid of Spalletti and is now probably going to be moving again, having won nothing obviously. I'd be very pleased if he returned to roma as he might help contribute to ensure they continue to win nothing!
on the 9th May, 2020 at 3:54pm
Totti himself 'STILL' says he can play even if it's just 20-30 mins. He's proven it still outside of football.

I still rem the game he came on as a sub against Torino and scored 2 goals..Sorprendente!

I know, we can't dwell on the past but Monchi was disgraceful in the way he treated Totti & DDR.

Anyway if Nainggolan has matured, like he has stated, other than the (smoking and partying while live broadcasting it, lol...hilarious tbh but not professional)..
.I would like him back.
on the 6th May, 2020 at 2:07pm
It's almost always a mistake for a player to return to a club, especially in cases like this, where he's now clearly only around 75% of the player he was 3 or 4 years ago. It's a shame he went to Inter; the stuff he got away with at Roma was always going to rub people the wrong way at a more disciplined club, and his exclusion from Belgium's 2018 WC squad (which had been on the cards for months before it was made official) seemed to set him back too. Roma need to move on though.
on the 6th May, 2020 at 9:48am
I would take Ninja, Strootman, Florenzi and Manolas back in a heartbeat. When the soul of a team is sucked out, it takes a long time for an identity to be found. Roma is better under Fonseca but playing without an established identity. Bring back players with experience like Ninja who will help build a new core of young players.
on the 5th May, 2020 at 8:10pm
Radja`s ties to Roma were always clear, never wanted to leave. However, he did misbehave at Inter and was not able to consistently perform. His fitness and lifestyle prevented him playing for more than 60 minutes. Conte training might kill him. If anything, Nainggolan was removed from the Inter squad to prevent any bad influence on the likes of Barella. Would be more than happy if Roma would buy him back, however I see no chances of that happening - 32 with high wave is not what Roma are buying.
on the 5th May, 2020 at 3:45pm
I wouldn't mind him back tbh. He would give us more depth but depending what Inter would ask for I can't see it happening. Like Dzeko, Kolarov & Smalling he would be a great leader for the younger players like Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Under, Kluivert etc. I hope he would also put boot up Cristante and get him motivated again.
on the 5th May, 2020 at 1:26pm

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