Radja Nainggolan could return to Inter’s starting line-up in their Champions League clash with Barcelona and head coach Luciano Spalletti said the midfielder may take a new role in his team.
The Belgium international came off the bench to score in second-half stoppage-time of Inter’s 5-0 win over Genoa, netting his third goal in all competitions following his €38million transfer from Roma.
Nainggolan missed Inter’s 2-0 Group B defeat at Camp Nou in October due to an ankle injury but Spalletti, who previously coached the 30-year-old during his time in charge of Roma, indicated that he may be utilised in a more defensive role when Barcelona visit San Siro.
“He has to be evaluated well,” Spalletti told reporters.
“We’ll get a further answer in training, and he could even play a deeper midfield role, which is where he started out.
“When we switched his position with [Miralem] Pjanic at Roma there was pandemonium. There were some poison pens ready, but then a lot of sentences had to be deleted.
“He started off in a deeper role, though. He’s not a trequartista who beats three men. He shows his quality in bursts, and it’s with desire and strength that he beats you.
“He stops you building play comfortably.”
#Spalletti : ” @OfficialRadja will be assessed thoroughly in training today. He knows how to play as a defensive midfielder, that’s where he started off. He can operate through the middle. Strength and enthusiasm are his qualities.” #InterBarça #UCL #InterBarcelona pic.twitter.com/2GxzjCqCdb
— Inter (@Inter_en) November 5, 2018
Barcelona travel to Milan on the back of five consecutive victories in all competitions, despite having been without Lionel Messi for their last four games.
The talismanic Argentine is in the squad for the trip to San Siro and could make his return to action after suffering a broken arm, but Spalletti insisted he would not shape his game plan around that possibility.
“It’s a worry for anyone if Messi plays, but the attitude doesn’t change,” said the Inter boss, whose players have earned nine victories from their last 10 matches.
“We need to be better in our reading of the game, but we’re going to mark space, not men.
“Firstly you should take into account the position of your team-mate, and only after that the opponent, though clearly when the opponent is Messi it’s different.
“He’s one of the best in the world.”