The Wesley Sneijder Conundrum: Why QPR May Be His Only Hope
Wesley Sneijder has been getting to know the city of Milan a little better in the last couple of months, but his days as an accidental tourist are coming to an end. Inter are willing to accept a cut-price €10m for the playmaker so that they can get his €6m-a-year deal, which runs for another three years, off their books.
Such a giveaway transfer fee one would feel should have attracted plenty of offers from Europe’s top clubs for a player who is only 28 and brings with him a load of experience and winner’s medals. However, the catch for many prospective suitors comes wrapped up in Sneijder’s wage demands as Inter have found out when they attempted to renegotiate the current deal downwards by €2m a year.
Wes and his agent, Soren Lerby, have been holding out for a knight in shining armour riding in from the Premiership but as we head into the second week of the January transfer market the only solid proposal has arrived from Turkey. Galatasaray have satisfied all the criteria set out by Inter, in that they will pay the transfer fee, with a tidy €6m upfront to push the move through immediately. Although they have baulked at paying Sneijder €6m a year for the next four years, they instead hope to incite him with €3.5m-a-year, with a €25k appearance bonus.
Then, club owner Unal Aysal has offered a number of on-football related bonus i.e. a bit of PR work here and there, whilst Nike, who happen to be Galatasaray’s kit and the player’s boot sponsor, are also reported to be ready to dip their hands into their pockets. So whichever way you look at it life should be very comfortable for Sneijder and his model wife on the banks of the Bosphorus.
In fact, Mrs Sniejder - aka Yolanthe Cabau - is causing as much of a stir as her husband following the surfacing of a 2006 film entitled Turkse Chich in which she plays the part of a Muslim temptress who seduces a younger man. In terms of dramatic content it may not rank in the same league as “Head-On” but the Turkish equivalent of the Daily Mail called it “blasphemous” which should draw in the punters.
Galatasaray are so confident that the glamour couple will soon be in residence that Sneijder shirts have already been printed up and the city’s airport is gearing up for the arrival of 5,000 fans to welcome the player. The only problem is that Sneijder and his camp are not making the sort of appreciative noises from someone who is about to have such untold riches thrown at his feet. Exasperation reached boiling point at the headquarters of Inter on Friday after a 24-hour deadline on the move came and past without any hint of where the Dutch master of intrigue was ready to hop on a flight to meet his new adoring public.
Aysal has been on the phone to Sneijder and there have even been suggestions that Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim was to be sent to Milan to persuade the player and his advisers that Turkey’s most successful club are not only ready to provide him with the financial rewards but also on-field success in front of sold-out crowds in the Turk Telecom Arena.
Now if it was only a Premier League club offering Sneijder an escape route out of Milan then it would be a done deal, but the calls from England have not been forthcoming. But a weekend is a long time in football, and Lerby will be doing the rounds seeking an English destination, but the wage demands or in whatever manner the remuneration is provided will always be a sticking point.
Sneijder will not want to lose face by backtracking and remaining at Inter but if he is not convinced of a move to Turkey then why go? If a Premier League side are ready to wait until the closing days of the transfer window with the situation becoming more desperate and the thought of another six months on the sidelines looming then they could yet land a bargain.
Sneijder’s talent is undisputed and under the right manager in a team he believes in then he is a valuable asset. His injury problems have been slightly exaggerated and although he is far from match fit his body has finally had time to recover from what has basically been two years of non-stop football since Jose Mourinho whisked him away from Real Madrid to become the lynchpin in Inter’s incredible treble-winning season before playing a principal role in Holland’s run to the World Cup final.
Sneijder still has a lot to offer and tellingly he believes that his best days lie ahead in the Premier League, but there aren’t many teams that could afford him that actually need him. QPR failed with an ambitious bid to lure him to London, but if that offer is still on the table come the end of the window then the result may be different. Manchester United have been long time admirers of Sneijder, but the additions of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa make their requirement for another attacking midfield somewhat redundant. The same applies to Chelsea, whose summer signings mean they’re well stocked in that area with Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.
It’s unlikely that Arsenal, with Santi Cazorla, or Spurs, with the impending arrival of Lewis Holtby, would be interested given the fees involved. Liverpool’s owners are unlikely to sanction a deal for a player of Sneijder’s age, whilst Everton and Newcastle are unlikely to be able to afford him. Unless Manchester City decide they need another impulse buy, Sniejder's options in England seem pretty scarce - an unfathomable scenario a season or to ago. Perhaps that is where QPR can offer him a chance to resurrect his career. Any deal would likely only be a loan until the end of the season, but if he could lead the R's to safety, and prove he's healthy and capable of recapturing his form, then it could be the platform he needs to secure a move to one of the bigger European leagues.