Roberto Martinez Open To Radja Nainggolan’s Inclusion At World Cup

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has opened the possibility of Radja Nainggolan featuring for the Red Devils at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia. The 29-year-old has been seldom selected by Belgium since Martinez’s appointment in August 2016 amid speculation that the former Everton coach does not approve the midfielder’s smoking habits.

However, speaking in an interview with Het Laatste, Martinez revealed that Nainggolan is in the reckoning for selection after being called up during the previous set of internationals in November, he said: “We have until May to analyse and make judgments on each player who helped us qualify, plus those who can help us in Russia. Nainggolan belongs to that [second] group of players. We’ll select 23 players in May, and this will be based on the needs of the team.”

Nainggolan’s attitude on and off the playing field has not gone well with several former managers at AS Roma, but he continues to remain an influential player for them. This season, the 29-year-old has contributed two goals and a further six assists in the Italian top-flight, but it appears that the Giallorossi won’t have an easy route to the Champions League with competition from the Milan clubs.
Inter and AC Milan are one and eight points respectively behind fourth-placed Lazio with a game in hand, and it could go down to the wire to decide the third and fourth positions, with Roma possessing just a one-point advantage over Simone Inzaghi’s side. Meanwhile, the Belgium national side are likely to have high hopes for the World Cup after having developed several players over the past four years.
The likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard have been groomed into world-class prospects by their respective clubs, and their influence, in particular, could be key towards guiding the Red Devils beyond the quarter-final stage, they reached during the previous World Cup in Brazil.