The January transfer window has arrived, and Inter got the ball rolling with the seemingly inevitable departure of Radja Nainggolan to Cagliari. The 32-year-old looked all set to head to Sardinia over the summer but the two clubs failed to find an agreement on the transfer deal but that only delayed his exit. Since then Nainggolan has rarely featured for Conte’s side, tabling a mere forty-five minutes of action across five appearances (four in Serie A, one in UCL). He has looked far from his best when on the pitch, even saying “The joy was taken away from me,” to describe his time in Nerazzurri colors.
Despite the enticing pre-season potential of adding Nainggolan into an already stacked midfield, Inter won’t miss him much. With no European matches on the horizon, squad rotation won’t be as vital, while the long-awaited return of Matias Vecino from injury will replace anything Nainggolan may have offered. Furthermore, though Inter is still paying part of the Belgian’s hefty wages, this deal may bring the Nerazzurri some good will in future deals with Cagliari, perhaps including a certain Alessio Cragno. We can dream, right?
For Nainggolan, meanwhile, Cagliari is a familiar location. He spent the 19/20 season there, tallying six goals and seven assists, playing a major role in the Sardinians midfield. Thanks to Marko Rog’s season-ending injury, a place in the starting eleven is Nainggolan’s to claim.
This deal may not be very flashy, but it’s a necessary one and could pave the way to more substantial Inter signings in January or the summer.