Scout report: Radja Nainggolan – Energetic midfielder on the move?

Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan has been linked with a move to both Arsenal and Chelsea this summer.

The player recently spoke about where he sees his future, seemingly ruling out a move to England, when he said, “In Rome I’m fine.

“My family is happy and even the weather is often good. Sometimes you make choices for the money, others for the quality of life, which matters a lot to me.

“Also, if I went to England, I would have to start from scratch, but I repeat: I am very well in Rome.”

That hasn’t stopped the speculation, of course.

So why would Arsenal be interested in the first place?

Nainggolan has established himself as one of his team’s best and most important players in recent seasons.

With more goal involvement from deeper midfield roles, he has improved on a yearly basis and it’s no surprise that the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have asserted their interest in him.

Strengths

A player in the Arturo Vidal mould, Nainggolan is a complete midfielder.

The ability to play in a more defensive or attack-minded role just highlights his experience and level of intelligence, whilst showing a willingness to make an impact wherever he plays.

It’s this attitude that has helped establish himself as one of the world’s best midfielders over the past two years. Despite his 5ft 9in frame, his tackling technique and execution are impressive.

ROME, ITALY – MARCH 01: Luca Crecco (L) of SS Lazio competes for the ball with Radja Nainggolan of AS Roma during the TIM Cup match between SS Lazio and AS Roma at Olimpico Stadium on March 1, 2017 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

He is energetic and tenacious when out of possession and his workrate quickly made him a favourite among Roma supporters. Small frame? No problem. On the attack, he’s able to skip past defenders easily whilst consciously scanning forward options before making the next move.

It’s also no surprise that he has scored more goals this season, given the freedom Luciano Spalletti has offered him. Having the likes of Leandro Paredes, Kevin Strootman and Daniele de Rossi beside him provides confidence in his team-mates’ ability to cover him when he does opt for galloping runs towards the area.

Inside the area, from range, Radja has no trouble whatever the distance. His memorable strikes against Inter Milan and Lazio this term just reiterate his impressive finishing, something that cannot be said for the majority of his attacking team-mates.

MILAN, ITALY – FEBRUARY 26: Radja Nainggolan of AS Roma (L) scores his second goal during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 26, 2017 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Weaknesses

It’s hard to pick out specific flaws in Nainggolan’s game, but there are a few things that he can work on to improve further in future.

Although he is a fantastic tackler and does not shy away from physical battles, he averages a foul every match. His discipline is steadily improving but even still, he has picked up 37 bookings in 151 matches for Roma – which is almost one every four games.

His attacking threat and tendency to play through balls isn’t questioned, but decision-making at times can let him down. He averages two unsuccessful touches a game and is dispossessed more than once every match too. He needs to strike a balance between holding the ball and passing quickly, where he sometimes invites unnecessary pressure.

Looking forward

Nainggolan will turn 29 before the Serie A campaign finishes and despite transfer links in recent seasons, has maintained his happiness at Roma. With everything taken into consideration, that’s not a surprise. He and his family are comfortable in the capital whilst continuing to flourish in a team that progressively improves.

Questions will be asked about his future, that’s inevitable. As he gets older however, it’d become increasingly unlikely he would seek a Premier League move.

If Spalletti manages to retain his core players, Roma will not be at risk of stagnation next term. Florenzi, Manolas, Dzeko and Salah are all important figures within the side. Remove one or more and questions will begin to rumble: whether Nainggolan himself is next to leave.

ROME, ITALY – MARCH 19: Radja Nainggolan of AS Roma gestures during the Serie A match between AS Roma and US Sassuolo at Stadio Olimpico on March 19, 2017 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Their objective is to challenge top dogs Juventus for silverware. They’re not going to achieve that without consistency, which is something they have lacked in previous seasons.

Nainggolan feels comfortable being Roma’s creator-in-chief and if they make quality summer acquisitions, who knows what the future could hold?

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