Reports: Chelsea edge closer to signing £40m superstar
Antonio Conte might finally get the signing he's always wanted
What's the story?
Chelsea's protracted chase for AS Roma superstar Radja Nainggolan may come to a positive end, according to a report in British news outlet, The Daily Express. The Belgian has been in Roma's sin-bin for his New Year antics off the pitch, and the Blues could swoop in with a massive offer to tempt the Serie A side. Eusebio di Francesco and Monchi are open to Nainggolan's exit, although they will not accept any fee less than £40 million, which the Blues are willing to pay - in the post-Emenalo era.
In case you didn't know...
Nainggolan made his move to Italy at an early age signing with Piacenza as a callow 16-year-old, moving away from his native Belgium in 2004. Cagliari bought the Belgian midfielder for a paltry €1.3 million in 2010, before moving to Roma on loan in January 2014. The Giallorossi made the move permanent in 2014, with AS Roma parting with €15 million for the Belgian midfielder's services. Nainggolan has exploded onto the world stage after moving to the Olimpico, with Chelsea's interest in the midfielder a long-standing one, amplified by Antonio Conte's arrival at the London club.
The heart of the matter
Nainggolan is pretty much a fan favourite at Roma, especially for his rather snarky comments against the Italian club's rivals. However, the Belgian midfielder seems to have abused the latitude afforded to him - his smoking has always been tolerated - but the midfielder uploaded a video on Instagram on New Year's Eve where he confessed to being 'absolutely smashed'.
Eusebio de Francesco subsequently dropped the midfielder for Roma's next game against Atalanta, which they lost 1-2. However, Nainggolan feels he was punished too harshly and has reportedly had a few heated exchanges with club officials. Roma are now willing to get rid, although they will still demand a rather large fee for the 29-year-old midfielder.
Chelsea are not as willing to part with £40 million for the midfielder as they were before, having secured the services of Ross Barkley, but Antonio Conte remains a fan and is desperate to push through a move. Roma do have the upper hand, as Nainggolan signed a new contract in July 2017, which would keep him at the club until 2021.
Radja Nainggolan is the prototype for an Antonio Conte midfielder, and the idea of him alongside N'Golo Kante ought to send shivers down opposition's spines. Even if he is 29-years-old, Chelsea can justify the spending with the reasoning that making a side that can challenge for the UEFA Champions League.