Former Inter midfielder Radja Nainggolan has spoken about the circumstances of his departure from the Nerazzurri over the summer.
Speaking to Italian broadcaster Radiolina, as reported by Cagliarinews24.com, the 33-year-old gave his account of a summer in which he had been expected to leave for Cagliari but in the end joined Belgian side Royal Antwerp instead.
Nainggolan had been expected to depart for much of the summer, with the Belgian’s significant contract and the fact that he was not in the plans of manager Simone Inzaghi meaning that the club were hoping to offload him.
A return to Cagliari, where he had spent the second half of last season on loan and with whom he has a long connection, always seemed like a likelihood with both the player and the Rossoblu desiring this reunion.
However, in the end a deal could not be worked out between the Nerazzurri, Rossoblu, and the player for any possible formula that would see the midfielder stay in Sardinia, and he joined Antwerp after agreeing a termination of his contract with Inter.
“They welcomed me warmly,” he said, “I’m very happy even if there was a small disagreementwith the fans. Here was the choice of my heart. I wanted to stay in Cagliari but they didn’t give me the opportunity to do so.”
He went on, “It was a big deal to leave Cagliari. I had made myself available, even if the fans say something else. This year I gave a word, which I kept, to return, but it is Cagliari that did not keep it. I did it, they did not.”
“My football gear was all there, just because I believed I was coming back I got a message that made me angry from my manager who told me he was happy with my professionalism,” said the midfielder.
He elaborated, “And I’m not talking about money – I had an important contract with Inter and said that I would return to Sardinia for a certain amount. Then the president told me that it was too much and then made me a smaller offer, which I accepted anyway. But then this was divided into two and it became impossible.”
“Returning to Cagliari seemed like a beautiful fairy tale,” Nainggolan reflected. “I wanted to, and despite the other offers, as soon as I had the opportunity to return I accepted. I thought it would close as I wanted ir, but sometimes in the world things don’t work out.”
He stated that there was “A lot of chatter and few facts.”
Of former Inter teammate Keita Balde who joined Cagliari this summer, Nainggolan stated that the 26-year-old is “a very explosive player, physically strong and he understands football. He is a bit crazy, he has a great desire to do well and he needs a lot of confidence. I think he can do very well in Cagliari because he has great qualities.”
“[Kevin] Strootmann has a lot of experience,” he said of his former Roma teammate who also linked up with the Rossoblu this summer, “he knows how to play like few others. He can still have his say if he is fit.”
He added of one more former Inter teammate to join Cagliari, on loan, “I can also give a good word about Dalbert. I still spoke well of the club, although I am disappointed about some things.”