'The joy of playing football was taken away from me' - Nainggolan fires parting shot at Inter after returning to Caglari on loan

Radja Nainggolan Inter 2020-21
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The Belgian midfielder says he is eager to get some regular minutes under his belt after a frustrating start to the 2020-21 season at San Siro

Radja Nainggolan has fired a parting shot at Inter after returning to Cagliari on loan, claiming the "joy of playing football was taken away from me".

Nainggolan made his way back to San Siro in the summer following a successful temporary spell with Cagliari last season.

Unfortunately, the midfielder has been starved of regular minutes since then, with Antonio Conte only using him in five of Inter's last 20 games across all competitions.

Rather than continue playing a bit-part role in the Nerazzurri squad, Nainggolan has opted to re-join Cagliari until their end of the current campaign, with the Sardinia-based club confirming his arrival on Thursday morning.

An official statement on Cagliari's website reads: "Cagliari Calcio is pleased to announce that it has acquired the right to the sports services of the player Radja Nainggolan who moves from Inter with the loan formula until the end of the season. 

"Like a long love story, tinged with red and blue: Cagliari and Nainggolan once again together. Because the little boy who became a man and a footballer on the island, who left to take flight and rise to an absolute level champion, has always carried the flag of Sardinia with him, the Quattro Mori tattooed in his heart. 

"Radja Nainggolan is back, ready to wear his 4 again, to battle in the middle of the field, to write new pages in Cagliari."

Nainggolan couldn't resist a final dig at his parent club when quizzed by reporters at the airport on his way to Sardegna Arena, as he admitted that his passion for the game had dwindled during his last few months at San Siro.

"I'm happy to be here, I want to rediscover the joy of playing football that was taken away from me in this first part of the year," said the Belgium international.

"The team is strong and competitive and with many promising young players. Maybe it lacks a bit of continuity during the game, it's not easy with so many new features.

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"I'd like to put my experience at the service of the team. I've read absurd things, I'm intact and can't wait to play. If I will stay permanently? Now I'm being moved left and right, let's see."

Nainggolan could make his first appearance of the season for Cagliari when they play host to Napoli on January 3.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side are currently struggling down in 15th in the Serie A standings, some 19 points behind Inter, who are sitting second behind leaders and local rivals Milan.

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