On Sunday night Galatasaray confirmed that Wesley Sneijder had signed from Inter Milan. For some, he’s gone to a corner of the footballing world to die, or less dramatically, to retire. For me, it’s just a bullet dodged for most in the Premier League.
I’m not suggesting that Sneijder is a bad player or incapable of bringing a great deal to most in English football. What I am suggesting is that any acts of significant quality would likely only come next season.
The player is 28, was on big money at Inter and kept his wage demands high for anyone willing to offer him a way out of Italy. The game in Turkey is said to be less intense, but were Sneijder to have arrived in England this January, much of the next few months would have been his preseason. With the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Premier League, how many clubs can afford to take that gamble?
And there’s another major point in this Sneijder debate. Liverpool were said to be in for him, but even with his wages at Galatasaray reported to be at 4 million euros—for a player who should be in his prime—why did so many big clubs across England and the continent decide to avoid him?
Does the player represent a figure who would slot into any side in England and make a major impact off the bat? That obviously puts to one side the need for him to regain fitness. Any player of his calibre needs the rest of the team to be built around him. Considering the makeup of many top teams in the Premier League, how many would have been likely to do that? Does that equate Sneijder being a luxury purchase? Maybe not entirely, but at this stage close enough.
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Another factor is the decline in production from Sneijder over the past couple of seasons. During Inter’s treble-winning season, the Dutch midfielder was one of the very best in Europe. That season he was the hub of an hugely impressive Inter Milan side and a player who likely would have won the Ballon d’Or had Lionel Messi and a couple of Spanish midfielders not been around.
The performances have waned, yes, and it could simply be a case of the player needing a move to reignite his game. But it remains a gamble, and it might not make as much sense as bringing in a younger, cheaper alternative. Galatasaray have plenty to offer besides wages—lets not forget that they are a Champions League team. The Dutchman has won league titles, the biggest competition in club football and played spectacularly in a World Cup in which he reached the final.
In Turkey, he may have been given guarantees that he will be the star of the team, he will be given the opportunity to regain his form in a high-pressure situation but not as close to the spotlight as in recent years. Despite what many may say, Sneijder has still gone to a big club in Europe with fantastic support. The player is nowhere near to the end of his career, but what would it do for his confidence if he does become a star once more? The obvious leader of a team with plenty of hope, both old and new following his arrival.
In England, the risk would have been too great. Every move would have been overanalysed. The interested would have raised even further as to why Manchester United were linked with him so heavily in the past, and if the weight of pressure became too heavy, it very well could have spelt the end of Sneijder’s career in a major European league.
This is a player who was once great, and evidently the appeal of a star name is still there for many fans in England. But there are many players in Europe who would provide far more guarantees than Sneijder at this time.
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