Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder has continued to dither over signing a deal that would take him to Turkish giants Galatasaray in the hope that a Premier League club will join the race for his signature late on, and while Liverpool have become the latest to be linked with the Netherlands international, the lack of movement from over here has been telling. But just why are so many top flight clubs reluctant to take on the talented playmaker?
The 28-year-old is currently involved in a nasty contractual wrangle with his club, with the crux of the issue being that the Italian outfit want him to approximately take a 30% pay cut on his €6 million-a-year after tax annual salary, currently the highest at both Inter and in the entire Serie A. The club are prepared to honour his existing deal but they would like to restructure it, paying him what he is due between now and 2015 in 2017 instead, so he will eventually get the full amount he is due, but simultaneously have to commit himself to the club for longer for less, hence the problem. Despite being fit for the past two months, Sneijder sees no reason to agree to such a deal and a move to Turkey is now imminent, with him sat twiddling his thumbs on the sidelines for the time being.
Nevertheless, the wrangling is not over yet it seems, with Inter chairman Massimo Moratti claiming to reporters today: “We want an answer by the end of the day. It would be professional from him if he made a decision shortly.” This would seem to be in stark contrast to Sneijder’s message just two days ago, telling Sky Sport 24: “It is a difficult decision to make. There are still two weeks until the end of the window and I still have time. See, I’m fine and I’m calm. I do not need to decide on Monday.”
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There is clear hesitancy over the move on Sneijder’s part because for all of his injury and discipline problems in the past, he is still capable of being a world-class performer when fit and playing regularly. He doesn’t want to move to Turkey, which is the equivalent of moving to Manchester for Eastenders characters; it’s not an arena fitting of his talents, with only the occasional Champions League outing to look forward to, so with him desperate to move to England, why is there such a shortage of takers?
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly came close to agreeing a deal for the playmaker back in the summer of 2011, but baulked at his €35m (£28.2m) valuation and wage demands, thought to be around the £200-000-per-week mark.
Of course, having only made six appearances all season up until now, partly due to injury and partly because of the contract situation, Sneijder would likely need a few months to get up to speed and build his match fitness, so he hardly represents the ideal January purchase, capable of hitting the ground running. Any such deal to England must be predicated on the understanding that the side will not see an immediete return on their investment until at least the start of next season, by which time he will be 29, so his age is another issue.
The financial side of things must be the biggest stumbling block, though, and any talk of a move to Anfield on those sort of wages, even after the wage bill has been freed up a notch after the termination of Nuri Sahin’s loan spell, is unrealistic. Liverpool have set about slashing wages in recent months just as much as Inter have over the past two years and only the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United could feasibly reach that mark, well out of the reach of the strict wage structures imposed at both Tottenham and Arsenal.
Galatasaray vice-president Abdullah Kigili said of the proposed move last week, telling Vatan: “If what I’m reading about is correct, the cost of Sneijder is both astronomical and absurd. Where will Galatasaray get this money? We have analysed the club’s accounts, and are aware that Uefa are monitoring them as well.
“Who will give us such money, to the point we can spend so much on a single player? Each transfer has to be well thought out. However, the amounts I’m hearing are simply blown out of all proportion.”
Even if the fee alone may be around the £8m mark, which for a player of his ability seems an absolute bargain, it’s wages which are the main draining force and expenditure on club’s budgets these days and it puts him out of the reach of most clubs. Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre appeared to rule out a move yesterday telling Sky Sports: “We don’t have any issues with finances, it is about doing what is best in the long-term interests of the football club, always.
“With the advent of financial fair play it means everyone should be running the club prudently and that does not mean not investing but investing wisely and at the right time, and we will always do that.”
The implementation of Financial Fair Play on the horizon is clearly stopping many clubs from dipping their toes into the murky waters of the Italian transfer market in this particular case and any move for Sneijder has to be seen as a gamble and an expensive one at that, with any potential sell-on value should the move go wrong another troubling matter that warrants discussion.
He has often struggled to integrate himself into any sort of team ethic under countless national team managers and while at Real Madrid. Neither Manchester club are likely to base their system and style around an injury-prone player, no matter how much ability he may have. Ferguson afforded himself one luxury purchase in the summer with Robin van Persie, so it’s doubtful he’ll do the same again so soon after.
The timing looks to be all off for a move to England, with all three clubs that can afford him concentrating on their league campaigns and unlikely to take the risk of loading a player with such sizeable wages onto a settled squad. It’s less an argument about his ability, rather the finances involved and it seems that unless some sort of radical compromise is floated from Sneijder’s camp in the near future, then we won’t be fortunate enough to see him grace England anytime soon.