For a fanbase that lives in a perpetual state of anxiety, which reaches its height (or nadir I suppose) in the summer, when seemingly every player is up for grabs, we may have finally been dealt some sweet relief. With everyone from Antonio Conte at Chelsea to Luciano Spalletti at Inter Milan desperate for his signature, offering oodles of cash and the lure of grand ambitions, Radja Nainggolan reaffirmed his commitment to AS Roma, as club President James Pallotta confirmed a new deal for the Belgian has been completed.
Following a 40 minute or so meeting last night—which, why can’t any of my meetings go that quickly—Nainggolan emerged all smiles, seemingly content with what transpired behind closed doors. And while no official statement has been made, Pallotta’s pithy “It’s done” is good enough for me.
The new deal will seal Nainggolan’s fate with Roma through 2021 and will pay him some €4 million per season, making him the club’s second highest paid player, about a half million behind Edin Dzeko. This new deal actually only binds Radja to Roma for one additional season, as the deal he signed in 2015 ran/runs through 2020, and will pay Nainggolan some €800,000 more than that initial deal.
While I’d love to say this puts the nail in the Radja-is-leaving-Roma coffin once and for all, we’ve gone through this song and dance for the past two summers, and Nainggolan’s salary, while well deserved, is far, far, far below his market value, so I wouldn’t be shocked if those same clubs come chasing him next summer.
But that’s a matter for another day. In the here and now, this deal is proof positive of one thing: Nainggolan loves this club and his life in Rome. In eschewing the greener pastures of the Premiership (and apparently the San Siro), Nainggolan is slowly engraving his name in Roma lore alongside Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, as players who believed in, valued, and lived up to all the romance that this city and this club represent.
So good on all parties for getting this done, now let’s go out and win something so Radja isn’t tempted again, shall we?