Roma's Radja Nainggolan joins Inter Milan in deal worth €38m
Radja Nainggolan has completed his move from Roma to Inter Milan in a deal worth €38 million with Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo moving in the opposite direction as part of the transfer.
Nainggolan, 30, is reunited with former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, who took charge of the Nerazzurri a year ago, and brings to an end a four-and-a-half-year spell with the Giallorossi, during which he made 203 appearances.
The former Cagliari midfielder still had three years left to run on his contract in the Italian capital and his move comes as a surprise after he repeatedly turned down approaches from other clubs -- notably from Chelsea -- and pledged his allegiance to Roma.
Nainggolan said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he was given by Inter's fans since arriving in the city of Milan on Sunday evening, and he now cannot wait to savour the atmosphere at San Siro -- in Serie A and on the club's return to the Champions League.
"I didn't expect such a warm welcome, I'm happy. The fans' affection is an important feeling for any footballer -- it means the club are enthusiastic," Nainggolan told Inter TV. "So am I and I hope that we can enjoy much satisfaction together. My best season was with [Spalletti] and I hope I can do just as well again.
"I'm at his disposal and I'm happy to have found him again. The important thing is feeling people have faith in you. The [sporting] director [Piero] Ausilio, the coach and [vice-president Javier] Zanetti all called me and made me feel important. It was an easy decision. I'm motivated for this new adventure.
"I still don't know [the fans] well, but seeing the way they have welcomed me, I hope they continue supporting the team this way. We can do well in the league and also in the Champions League because Inter have a great history and have got to get back to being protagonists, also in Europe."
Nainggolan was a regular last season as Roma finished third and reached the Champions League semifinals, although his return of four goals was his lowest single-season haul since he joined the club in 2014, and seven fewer than he managed in the 2016-17 campaign.
Spalletti will hope to get similar figures from Nainggolan again next season after declaring he was the "missing piece" in his Inter puzzle, as they prepare their return to the Champions League next season.
"He's the turbine that our game had been lacking," Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia. "He's going to set us alight. The fact that as soon as he knew he was on the transfer market, he decided to come to Inter is an important signal for us.
"More than the relationship between Nainggolan and Spalletti, it's the relationship between Nainggolan and Inter which matters. Whenever he played against clubs like ours, Radja, like everybody, could see all the love there is around this club. We've got the biggest number of fans in the league and we have this mass of people who have followed us from stadium to stadium, showing us the way to go."
Nainggolan, who was overlooked by Belgium coach Roberto Martinez for his World Cup squad, has signed a four-year contract in Milan.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.