After one transfer battle over Romelu Lukaku already this summer, the Daily Mail suggest that Manchester United and Chelsea could do battle once again over Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
Who is he?
29-year-old Radja Nainggolan is a dynamic central midfielder capable of playing in any central midfield role, from a holding role to an attacking play maker. With 29 international caps and six goals to his name for Belgium, Nainggolan has established himself as one of the biggest names in Serie A during his spell in the Italian capital.
Where has he been?
Having begun his career as a youth player at Antwerp based side Germinal Beerschot, who have since been dissolved, Nainggolan moved to Italy to join Piacenza as a 17-year-old in 2005. He rapidly impressed and made his debut for the Serie B side at the tale end of the 2005/06 season, becoming a regular in 2006/07.
After progressing to become a key player, Nainggolan headed to Cagliari on loan with a view to a permanent deal. He soon signed permanently and made 137 appearances, scoring seven goals, before moving on to Roma on a similar loan deal. Now having become a regular in the capital, with 27 goals in 161 games to date.
What’s his style of play?
Nainggolan is the perfect example of an all round midfielder. An excellent passer, his vision has been praised as his long ball style of passing offers another dimension to his side. Far from a long ball merchant, Nainggolan prefers to sit deep and look for exquisite 50 yard passes to the wings or to a striker on the run.
Also a tough tackler, the Belgian is more than happy to get stuck in and break up play. Capable of playing as a ball winning midfielder, his excellent reading of the game means that he can often prevent attacks from developing, even if he is at times accused of being too quick to dive into a challenge.
Perhaps the area in which the 29-year-old has most improved in recent years has been with his finishing. With 11 goals in 2016/17 the best return of his career, he has shown his ability to finish from inside the box as well as with rockets from outside of the 18 yard box.
What would his arrival mean for Manchester United or Chelsea?
For United, he would appear to be a candidate alongside the likes of Eric Dier and Nemanja Matic. United are clearly on the look out for another midfielder to play alongside Ander Herrera in the middle of the park and Nainggolan could be the perfect option. He may even also provide an alternative to Paul Pogba in a more advanced midfield role.
In the case of Chelsea, it seems that a move for Nainggolan may be dependent on the sale of Nemanja Matic, particularly if the signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko is confirmed. An ideal option alongside Bakayoko or Kante, he seems more likely to fit into Antonio Conte’s system than the likes of Cesc Fabregas.
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