Plenty of deals have already taken place, with Premier League clubs having splashed out over £47m on acquiring new talent since the beginning of the month, and that figure is bound to multiply before the window shuts.
Liverpool Football Club were the first to dip into the market in 2013, the club securing the services of England international striker Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for a fee believed to be around £12m. Sturridge has settled well in his short time in the North West, scoring on both his full debut for the club and on his Premier League bow against Manchester United, so that piece of business looks like money well spent.
Further additions to Rodgers’s small squad are necessary however, particularly in the light of the departures of Joe Cole and Nuri Sahin to West Ham and Borussia Dortmund respectively. One player who is being linked increasingly strongly with a move to the Reds is Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder is certain to leave the Milanese giants during the window, with the fee set to be around £6m, and Brendan Rodgers is reportedly very keen to bring the Champions League winner to Anfield. But, does Sneijder represent value for money or is he another expensive flop waiting to happen?
Wesley Sneijder has been one of the best number 10’s in World football for over half a decade now. A first choice with the Dutch National side since 2005, Sneijder was an integral part of the Holland side which narrowly missed out on World Cup glory in 2010.
Leaving Ajax for a fee of €27m in August 2007, Sneijder signed Spanish giants Real Madrid. Originally assigned the number 23 shirt, Sneijder proved to be an instant hit at the Bernabeu as he registered nine times in his maiden La Liga season, helping Real to retain their title. After the departure of Robinho early the following season , Sneijder was handed the coveted number 10 shirt at Real, however he was sold at the end of that campaign following the election of Fiorentino Perez for his second term as Club President.
Sneijder arrived in Milan in August 2009 after Inter’s bid of €15m was accepted by Los Blancos (the size of the fee representing the desire for a total re-think at the Bernabeu) and, although he didn’t realise it, was about to embark on the most successful season of his career to date. Sneijder’s performances helped Internazionale to an historic treble; the Italian club won not only the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia but also lifted the Champions League trophy for the first time in 45 years. His performances drew personal accolades too, as Sneijder was named the best club midfielder in the competition by UEFA. The Italian media warmed to the Dutchman quickly and labelled him the “sniper”, a reference to his pinpoint passing and ability to score from outrageous distances.
At the end of the club season, Sneijder went to South Africa with the Netherlands where he continued his magnificent form into the tournament. As Holland progressed through the competition to the final, Sneijder was named as Man of the Match in no fewer than four of their matches and hit the back of the net on five occasions.
Following the tournament, Sneijder returned to Italy where he helped Inter to win the Italian Super Coppa, contributed to their run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
Since signing a new five year deal with Inter at the end of 2010 however, Sneijder’s star has faded alongside that of the club with which he’s been playing his trade. Inter have had a torrid time since Mourinho left them to go to Real Madrid, hiring and firing a host of managers in quick succession and have, until this season at least, struggled to maintain any kind of form or consistency. During this time, a succession of niggling injuries and a fall out with Club President Moratti over wages have seen Sneijder fall out of favour and become a bit part player at the San Siro. Sneijder’s last outing for Inter was at Chievo on September 26th and in total he’s played five times in Serie A in 2012/13, scoring one goal and assisting with another.
The Anfield club has been burnt in recent times by taking on a seasoned pro at high wages, only to find that his best years are behind him and he has little left to offer ( I don’t need to name names, it’s obvious who I’m talking about). However, if it was up to me, I’d definitely take a risk on Sneijder.
If the club made a move to secure Sneijder, it would send out a signal to the players, the fans and the rest of the Premier League that Liverpool mean business now, not in a few years. At 28 Sneijder should still have at least three top seasons left in him. Yes, he’s had some injury problems but, at 28, who hasn’t? There’s has been a suspicion in Italy that some “injury lay-offs” have been enforced by Moratti, due to the lengthy and bitter contract wrangling between the club and their once star player and Sneijder doesn’t appear to show any signs of being a busted flush in the same way as a certain former Red. His loss of form over the last season and a half can, at least in part, be attributed to lengthy spells on the side-lines for one reason or another.
Liverpool’s transfer policy of looking to sign young talent is a sensible one, however we have been told that it is flexible and, that whatever the age, exceptions will be made if a player can add quality to the squad and can be purchased for a reasonable fee. Sneijder is that player!
He brings a host of experience which could really help with the balance of the team, has accomplished almost everything in the game, brings a winning mentality and, even if his level has dropped slightly since 2010 (as yet unproven), he is still top class number 10; a position in which LFC are desperately short of options.
This is the perfect opportunity for FSG to demonstrate to fans that they’re prepared to spend the money to take Liverpool forward; Sneijder is a player who can come in and make a difference immediately, added to which he represents a way to add depth in a problem area for a decent price. His passing in the final third would be perfect for the style of football that Brendan Rodgers wants to play and his prowess from set-pieces would be a more than welcome addition to our arsenal. In short, Sneijder can do for Rodgers at Liverpool what Sigurdsson did for him at Swansea.
£6m is nothing for a player of Sneijder’s calibre and his age would not put me off. Plenty of Dutch aces have come to the Premier League latterly in their careers and have enjoyed success. Davids, Bergkamp, Van der Vaart, Zenden, to name but a few. The Premier League should give Sneijder a new lease of life, a new challenge, a new league to conquer and a chance to prove he can cut it in one of the toughest leagues in the world so, if LFC can come up with the right offer, I wouldn’t really worry about his attitude being right. He’s a winner and that’s a trait that’s hard to shake.
New reports in Italy claim that Liverpool are prepared to offer Sneijder a similar deal to that of Galatasaray (up to £100k a week). That seems fitting for a player of his stature and pedigree at this point in his career. It’s unlikely that, with lack of interest from Chelsea, City or United, any Premier League club will offer him more. My only concern is that if the Reds don’t act quickly to bring Sneijder in, we could be beaten to it by Tottenham who are still, by all accounts, keen to replace Van der Vaart and desperate to stunt our growth.
You can catch up with Neil on Twitter @Neil980 or on his blog http://itsallinthegameblog.wordpress.com/