From the moment he was signed during the winter of 2014, Radja Nainggolan fit seamlessly into Roma’s midfield. Nainggolan was originally purchased as a replacement/safeguard in the wake of Kevin Strootman’s perpetual knee issues but has since transformed into a club leader and one of the league’s best and most coveted midfielders.
And that last point hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of Italy either. For each of the past two summers Roma fans have been treated to a menagerie of transfer rumors, with everyone from Juventus to Chelsea reportedly minutes away from securing this signature. This summer was particularly harrowing as Antonio Conte supposedly had discussions with Nainggolan and/or his representatives about jumping ship and heading to London.
Even with Nainggolan approaching 30-years-old, those stories didn’t figure to disappear anytime soon, and while Roma managed to secure Nainggolan’s services through 2020, his relatively low wages still made him fodder for the transfer market. No more.
Word broke yesterday, spurred by the Gazzetta dello Sport, that Roma and Nainggolan were working on a new wage structure to his deal, one that will pay him handsomely. At a reported €5 million per season, Nainggolan would trail only Daniele De Rossi and Gonzalo Higuain among the league’s top wage earners.
Is Nainggolan the third best player in the league? Probably not, but he’s been nothing short of excellent for Roma and the club simply cannot play the way they do without Nainggolan in the middle of the park.
Having said that €5 million is a drop in the bucket to many Premiership clubs, so this doesn’t necessarily close the door, but the fact that he chose to stay and has been willing to negotiate new deals in each of the past two seasons is a pretty solid indicator that Nainggolan is comfortable in Roma.
Now, sign some other midfielders and give this guy a rest every now and then.