It hasn’t come easy for Radja Nainggolan, but the hardy AS Roma midfielder was built for tough play. On loan from Cagliari, the Belgian veteran became a big part of i Lupi‘s success in late 2014 and was expected to be a big part of his club and nation’s charge ahead.
But things don’t always play out as expected. PST had a chance to speak with the 26-year-old on Monday about his Roma success and Belgian omission.
PST: Congrats on the move to Roma and a strong first half-season. What were your feelings when you made the move to Roma?
Radja Nainggolan: “I’m very happy, it’s a great club that was already doing very well before I got here. My teammates have been great in making me feel part of the team right away, I’m very happy.”
PST: How excited are you at the prospect of Champions League football next year?
RN: “The Champions League was a dream and is now a reality, I’m very happy and we will have to prove that we deserved it.”
PST: Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman (when healthy)… how competitive is training every day?
RN: “Competition is good and healthy for the team, it keeps everyone from doing anything but their best. They are great players and I think the players who will play will be the ones who proved they deserve it.”
PST: Obviously we know Roma can compete for the Serie A title, but do you think you can be a threat in the UCL in your first year back?
RN: “This year we did our best and will continue doing so. Right now we need to focus on giving everything next season, the rest will come.”
PST: I’m sure it’s hard to be on the stand-by list for World Cup, but it’s a great honor and it shows how deep Belgium is. What are the expectations for the nation in Brazil?
RN: “I was expecting to be in the 23 to make the team to be honest. There are a lot of great players, unfortunately I wasn’t chosen and I have accepted this and will certainly support the team.”
LIMA, Peru (AP) Peru has extradited the country’s former soccer boss to the United States for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar FIFA bribery scandal involving marketing and broadcasting rights.
Manuel Burga was sent to New York on a commercial flight before dawn on Friday.
He has been in jail since December 2015 as part of the investigation. Peru’s Supreme Court in June cleared the way for his extradition and President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski signed a decree authorizing the move a week ago.
Burga oversaw Peru’s football federation for more than a decade until 2014. He has denied any wrongdoing.
While the battle for MLS Cup 2016 has been dwindled down to two sides, the rest of the league continues to make roster transactions in preparation for next season.
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The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Friday that the club has exercised options on six players, including goalkeeper David Bingham, Fatai Alashe, Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez.
Additionally, the Earthquakes have released nine players, including U.S. Men’s National Team defender Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson, however, the latter two are reportedly in talks to return to the club in 2017.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.
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The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.
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Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.
It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.
Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.
Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.
Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
On a day where Atlanta United added another young talent, the 2017 MLS expansion side could be preparing to make a major splash for a South American playmaker.
According to numerous Argentine media outlets, Atlanta is closing in on signing Paraguay international Miguel Almiron for an MLS-record fee of $13 million from Lanus at the end of 2016.
Almiron, 22, has scored three goals in 34 appearances for Lanus since joining the Argentine club in 2015. The young winger began his professional career back in 2013 with Cerro Porteno, where Almiron also played for the club’s youth academy.
On the international stage, Almiron has already earned seven caps for Paraguay after previously representing the nation’s Under-17 and U-20 national teams.