Nainggolan wary of Roma reunion

AS Roma
Radja Nainggolan's absence will be a major talking point as Inter Milan attempt to close the gap on fellow Serie A high-flyers Napoli on Boxing Day.

Radja Nainggolan has admitted he’s nervous about returning to old club Roma with Cagliari on Sunday.

Nainggolan was at the capital club for four-and-a-half years between January 2014 and June 2018, before being sold to Inter in a £35million deal.

Things have not worked out for him at the Nerazzurri, though, and he returned to former club Cagliari in August on a season-long loan deal.

The 31-year-old has had a calf injury this season but should be fit for Sunday’s game against his old club. Nainggolan admits he’s unsure what sort of reception he will get from the home fans but hopes they will respect him for what he did during his time there.

“Playing Roma will certainly have an effect on me,” he told La Repubblica. “I don’t know what to expect. I hope they don’t whistle me.”

Nainggolan made 203 appearances for Roma, scoring 33 goals, and was integral in their run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018 before they lost to Liverpool.

The midfielder admits he didn’t want to leave and had considered finishing his career at the Stadio Olimpico but the club couldn’t turn down Inter’s offer at the time.

He added: “But certainly, I’d thought about ending my career at Roma. I was happy there, I gave my soul, I had everything I wanted. Leaving was a great disappointment.”

The Giallorossi are fifth in Serie A with 11 points from their first six games, while Cagliari are two places and just a point behind before this weekend’s meeting between the two sides.