Why Belgium coach Marc Wilmots should take AS Roma’s Radja Nainggolan to Brazil
Radja Nainggolan is one of these Belgian internationals who left Belgium at a very young age to try their luck abroad. The in Antwerp born midfielder started his football career with Tubantia Borgerhout before moving to Germinal Beerschot. Nainggolan, who has a Belgian mother and an Indonesian father, impressed in the youth teams with Beerschot and drew the attention from several clubs in Belgium and abroad.
In 2005, Nainggolan joined Italian Serie B club Piacenza on loan for a year and, after impressing throughout his spell there, they signed him on a permanent deal. At the age of 16 he found it difficult to get a lot of playing time but things changed in 2008-09 as he started to get more playing time and he became a revelation in Serie B.
It was a dream of Nainggolan to play in Italy’s top flight and in 2010 Cagliari took him on loan, giving him the chance to show his potential in a more competitive league. After seven games during that spell, Cagliari had seen enough and bought 50% of his contract from Piacenza in a co-ownership deal.
Throughout his time at the Rossoblu, Nainggolan became one of the driving forces of the Italian team. He is very much a modern, hard working midfielder. He also has a good shot and is excellent at recovering possession. You’ll also find him everywhere on the pitch as he contributes in both attack and defence.
All those qualities made him one of the revelations in the Italian Serie A throughout the last two years. Several big-named clubs were interested in signing the Belgian midfielder but it was AS Roma who convinced him with their project and thus he joined the capital club in January. It was seen as dangerous move as there was every possibility he could end up on the bench with the World Cup only months down the line. However, Roma coach Rudi Garcia was impressed by the 25-year-old and made him instantly one of his key players.
Nainggolan is the type of player who will provide Belgium with a great deal of fight and hunger when they are involved in a difficult, scrappy game at the World Cup. He will always go for it until the game is over. He will run after every ball until the referee blew his full-time whistle. You could say that Nainggolan is a true warrior.
Axel Witsel is the absolute number one choice in the midfield for Marc Wilmots. Nainggolan is more a number eight type of player but it seems certain that it will be between he and Timmy Simons for that last spot in the midfield. Witsel, Marouane Fellaini, Moussa Dembélé and Steven Defour are already certain of their ticket for Brazil.
Most people probably think that Wilmots always needs to pick Nainggolan instead of Club Brugge’s Simons. The former is having a good season with a European top club in the Serie A and the latter has had an unstable season in Belgium. But Wilmots is a big fan of Simons and wants to have him in the squad for his experience.
I think I have the solution for Wilmots, Nainggolan and Simons. What if Wilmots takes both Simons and Nainggolan to Brazil. The former as a member of the staff and the latter as a player of the squad. Simons still can use his years of experience and help Belgium in difficult moments from the sidelines while Nainggolan can help out Wilmots when Witsel or another midfielder gets injured.