AS Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has today opened up on Premier League champions Chelsea’s pursuit of his signature.
Having moved into a more attacking role in the Italian capital last year, all-action midfielder Nainggolan went on to enjoy by far the most fruitful campaign of his career, racking up 14 goals and 7 assists across all competitions, while continuing to showcase his defensive tenacity on the other side of the ball.
As a result, the 29-year-old Belgian international was added to the wishlists of a number of Europe’s biggest clubs during the summer, with Premier League duo Manchester United and Chelsea having reportedly informed Roma of their interest.
However, in the end, Nainggolan stayed put at the Stadio Olimpico, despite sizeable rumoured bids from the English top-flight.
He also put pen to paper on a new contract with Roma in August, confirming his desire to win trophies with the capital outfit and seemingly putting to bed any and all rumours regarding his future.
However, true to his oft-controversial character, Nainggolan saw his off-field antics drive a wedge between he and his current employers two months ago, after the Belgian posted a video of himself on New Year’s Eve, in which he was seen drinking, smoking and using a series of blasphemous phrases (majorly frowned upon in Italy).
Roma handed their star midfielder a subsequent one-match ban for his part in the incident, which immediately saw links between the Piacenza youth product and Chelsea reignite.
‘Everything is perfect’
But Nainggolan himself saw to it that the interest on the part of the Blues was knocked back once again, with the Giallorossi favourite confirming this morning that he turned down a move to Stamford Bridge due to his affinity for his current club and the Italian capital:
‘I could have gone to Chelsea and many other clubs, but starting something new when you are 28 or 29 years old, in a new culture, another lifestyle… that’s not for me.’
‘I prefer to stay where I feel good. If money were my only motivation, I would have changed clubs many times and my salary would have grown, but my first priority is to live well.’
‘You need to live well and be happy playing where you are and I have both of those things here. Everything is perfect; my family is happy in Rome.’
‘There are lots of good restaurants and it’s a good place to go shopping. When friends or family come to visit, you can send them almost anywhere.’
‘I’m liked at the club and the supporters are behind me. I’ve given a lot on the field and I get a lot of respect for that. As a footballer, that’s one of the best things you can get. I grew up in Antwerp, but I became a man in Italy.’
‘As things stand, I can see myself living in Rome in later life.’