Radja Nainggolan’s absence will be a major talking point as Inter Milan attempt to close the gap on fellow Serie A high-flyers Napoli on Boxing Day.
The Belgian midfielder, a summer signing from Roma, has been “temporarily suspended from football activity for disciplinary reasons”, a short statement on Inter’s website revealed on Sunday.
Reports indicated Nainggolan is at loggerheads with Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti over his lifestyle while it has also been claimed the decision was taken because of the 30-year-old’s tardiness to training.
Nainggolan has struggled to maintain a starting role under Spalletti, and he was substituted after 67 minutes in the 1-1 draw at Chievo at the weekend – a result that saw Inter fall eight points behind second-placed Napoli.
Spalletti was left to lament a late Chievo leveller after seeing the Nerazzurri spurn a host of chances to increase their lead and he insists it is something they must learn from.
He said in quotes on the club’s website: “From a character point of view, we need to be more ruthless in certain situations. However, we must also get the best out of our abilities.
“Sometimes we don’t take the right course of action, therefore, we don’t get the most out of ourselves. There were many chances to scores, situations where we had a numerical advantage but couldn’t finish.”
Ivan Perisic scored for Inter for the first time since September 1 at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi but the Croatian would have preferred all three points.
He said: “It doesn’t matter who scores. I ended my drought but we didn’t win so my goal has little importance.
“We had chances to score a second or a third, but we didn’t take them.
“When this happens, there is the risk of losing points. We’ll now host Napoli at San Siro and we must do our utmost to get back to winning ways.”
While Napoli are comfortably ahead of third-placed Inter going into their trip to Milan, the Partenopei are eight points adrift of runaway league leaders Juventus.
Head coach Carlo Ancelotti is not fretting over Juventus’ fortunes, with the Bianconeri only dropping two points in 17 fixtures this season.
He said on Napoli’s website: “We mustn’t think about Juventus because with all the points they’re racking up it could demotivate us.
“We need lots of motivation because I have an excellent team here that can achieve great things.
“Personally I’m more than satisfied with the way we’re working. It’s very easy for me to manage this group of players. They’re all very willing and I really enjoy coaching them.”