Ed Aarons on 16 January 2018
The Mill has always been a fan of footballers who smoke. We can still clearly remember the thrill of seeing Sinisa Mihajlovic sparking up around the back of Selhurst Park after playing for Internazionale in a friendly against Crystal Palace way back in the hazy summer of 2005.
Sadly, if you’ll forgive the terrible pun, they’re a dying breed these days. Paul Bettany-lookalike Jérémy Mathieu didn’t last long at Barcelona after admitting he was a 20-a-day man, while Jack Wilshere’s penchant for being photographed fag in hand was never well received by Arsène Wenger.
But there is one player who continues to defy the laws of science with his all-action displays in central midfield in spite of his nasty habit. “I’m not ashamed because I smoke,” explained Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan last year. “I know I should set a good example, I have kids. But I’m just a footballer, I do my job. Everyone knows that I smoke and I can’t hide it, but I’m not ashamed.”
The Belgium international’s decision to post a video on Instagram of himself drinking and smoking as he celebrated the new year may have been a step too far, however. Roma promptly suspended him and now seem ready to cash in by selling the 29-year-old to Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande for a cool €50m (£44.5m).
Having previously turned down a move to Chelsea, Nainggolan is said to be keen on the move after falling out with Belgium manager Roberto Martínez and giving up on his World Cup hopes. If only the former Everton manager had just allowed him to have a balcony when they went on away trips like his predecessor Marc Wilmots then none of this would have ever happened. Probably.
Elsewhere, a tanned bloke called Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Manchester United from the team that is fourth in the Spanish league, while Swansea’s search for reinforcements has also taken them to Madrid, with Atlético’s French striker Kevin Gameiro and Argentina midfielder Nicolás Gaitán both on Carlos Carvahal’s shopping list.
According to the Mirror, West Ham fear Andy Carroll’s “head has been turned” by talk of a move to Chelsea. West Brom manager Alan Pardew has decided that he likes the cut of Tom Cairney’s gib and has offered £12m for the Scotland midfielder, with Fulham eyeing up a move for Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle if he does leave Craven Cottage.
Southampton remain in talks with Monaco for striker Guido Carrillo and are hopeful of concluding a deal while Leicester boss Claude Puel says Riyad Mahrez could be worth £100m in the summer transfer window. We can’t look that far ahead Claude, let’s get January out of the way first please.