The Enigma that is Wesley Sneijder
Why is a player who has such quality deemed a bad move?
“I’d love to stay to the end of my contract in 2015, but it doesn’t just depend on me.”
For the past 18 months one of the best talents of his generation has fallen from the heights of Balon D’or nominee to a player who has become ostracised from his team. He has been effectively being forced out of the club and this January it appears he will finally leave the San Siro. The enigma that is Wesley Sneijder’s situation has become has become a fascinating story.
Just a few years ago Sneijder was one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. Yet since the 2010 he has been on a downward slide. It has become so bad for the Dutch playmaker that Inter Milan have come to the opinion that they are better without him and have been actively seeking to rid themselves of their Dutch star.
The problem for player and club is that there not many clubs who are interested in him. Why is a player who has such quality deemed a bad move?
During the summer of 2011 Sneijder was heavily linked with a move to Man United. His previous season had been a disappointment after the treble success under Mourinho, Rafa Benitez had struggled to replace the “Special One” and did not stay in the job long. Leonardo took over the reigns and although results improved, his tactical inability and care for defending meant Inter did not end the season well.
The reports linking Sneijder to United last summer sparked much interest from the media and fans. At that time he was regarded highly after that impressive treble winning season. A poor 2010/11 season was put down to unfortunate injuries and the clubs lack of stability.
Many believed that he would have been ideal for United. Yet there were doubts whether he would fit in at United. After being so prolific in his favourite number 10 role, would Ferguson be willing to move Rooney to accommodate the Dutch man?
There is a reason that he did not make it at Madrid, his success at Inter came when Mourinho revolved the whole side around him. It brought out his best yet was it a formula that every team and coach could use? Mourinho gave a free role to play. Since Mourinho left, Sneijder has not been able to recapture that form, simply because he is not a team oriented player.
For me the only thing that Sneijder would have offered would have been the fan fare it would have generated. He would not have adapted to United, especially as him and Rooney play similar roles. Ferguson dodged an expensive bullet by not bringing in Sneijder.
Since then United have brought in Shinji Kagawa to be the teams playmaker, a much more shrewder purchase. Kagawa was cheaper in terms of fee and wages and offers great potential at just 23 years old. The truth was that Sneijder did represent value for money. It was not that United were not willing to pay the wages if they were justified, Van Persie’s arrival signifies that a player who is on form is worth the outlay. And this brings up the question of Sneijder’s true worth in 2013.
Wesley Sneijder was brought up through the famed Ajax academy and learnt his trade in the iconic number 10 position, famed by previous Ajax players such as Bergkamp and Litmanen.
His performances at Ajax were bringing him much attention and praise and it was no surprise that one of Europe’s elite came in for him.
Real Madrid saw Sneijder as the diamond of their “Dutch revolution” and along with an Robben, Van Der Vaart and Drenthe Sneijder moved to the Bernabeau in 2007 for £20m. It made him the second most expensive Dutch footballer
However a couple of years at Madrid were mixed for Sneijder; change of managers and injuries did not allow him to make a significant impact and he was deemed surplus when Florentino Perez embarked on his new "Galatico" project.
Madrid were in the midst of bringing in Kaka, Ronaldo and Benzema and embarking on a new “Galatico” era. Sneijder was deemed surplus. One teams loss, another’s gain.
His next move would be his most significant as he would be partnered with one of the games best coaches. Jose Mourinho was looking for some new faces to take his Inter Milan side to European glory. Out went Zlatan Ibrahimovic and in came Samuel Eto’o, Goran Pandev, Diego Milito and of course Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder was bought for roughly £12m. As the price tag shows, Sniejder was not regarded highly at Madrid that summer.
The Dutch playmaker was immediately given the iconic number 10 shirt and it was clear that Sneijder was seen as Inter’s star man.
A treble winning season
The 2009/2010 would be one great success for both player and his side. A record treble winning season and a World Cup final marked a great 12 months for Sneijder. Nicknamed “the Sniper” for his playmaking ability to assist and his pin point set piece deliveries, Sneijder grew into his role as Inter’s trequartista.
His performances were rewarded by UEFA and he was named as the best midfielder of the 2009/2010 season and was shortlisted for the 2010 Balon D’or. Lionel Messi took the accolade yet there is a strong case that Sneijder should have won it that year.
His biggest disappointment of the year was not capping that year off with the World Cup. Asked what was his greatest triumph he said “I have to say winning the Champions League, but I would rather have won the World Cup.”
Holland’s number 10 scored five goals in the World Cup, making him top scorer at the tournament with David Villa.
Significantly Sneijder dedicated his great year to his former coach Jose Mourinho.
2010 was a great year for Sneijder yet after Mourinho left he would never reach those great again. That season was special for all the players as well as Mourinho. The Portuguese coach regards that Champions League success as his greatest ever. His bond with the players was the strongest he has known. It was never going to be easy for a new manager and Benitez found that out.
Without Mourinho Sneijder was lost
After the treble winning season, unprecedented for the club, their orchestrator of that success, Jose Mourinho decided he wanted a new challenge. Although it sounds ridiculous to say that a side which won the Champions League was in fact a poor side is not actually far from the truth.
Mourinho’s magic comes from getting the most from a group of players which many do not believe are capable of success. Added to that is his ability to know the strengths and weaknesses of his players and team. A deep, organised and strong defensive formation was favoured with his ageing defence, the sides success coming from counter attacks.
The key man of whom Mourinho moulded the side around was Sneijder. He made players like Eto’o and Pandev and Milito do the defensive work from the front, allowing Sniejder to play a free role behind the striker.
The complexity of Sneijder’s character is shown in his up and down career. Despite his immense talent, reports are that the Dutchman constantly needs reassurance. Mourinho knew this, as he does so well, and knew that when Sniejder is loved, when the manager puts his arm around him and tells him he's the best in the world, he thrives on it. Jose massaged his ego and brought out the world class talent that lies in Sneijder. Yet without Jose, Sneijder has not been able to recapture that form.
After Mourinho left his form nose-dived, with newer managers being less willing to build the side around the Dutchman.
These past two seasons have seen Sneijder’s role change dramatically from the untouchable star of the team under Mourinho, to one who was required to fit into the tactics of managers like Benitez, Gasperini and Ranieri. The issue was that Gasperini and Ranieri particularly struggled to incorporate their No.10 into their tactical systems.
In his absence Inter have learned to play successfully without him, no player after all is greater than the team. When Sneijder was out last season, rather than suffer in his absence they won seven games in a row. Yet despite Inter being on a great run of form, Ranieri was forced to change his formation to include the returning Dutchman. This shift, as we all know, resulted in a run of losses that ultimately cost Ranieri his job; Inter then only won one of their next 10 and Claudio Ranieri got the sack.
The team are better without Sneijder and the past 18 months have seen Moratti attempt to offload the Dutchman. Yet this has been a significant problem for the club.
The difficulties of bringing out Sneijder's best
Sneijder is a fantastic player yet if the team is not “built” around his talents, he appears to struggle to fit into the coaches system. Many have speculated that he restricts Inter because of his rigid style. The blame cannot be put solely at Sneijder yet the fact a winning side and formula was changed to negative effects in order to accommodate the Dutch man was a worrying sign.
Under Mourinho Sniejder played his best football of his career and for all the success which that season brought, it actually has affected the player and team two years later. Jose pandered to him and gave him the role he craves as a trequartista. He shone under the system of Mourinho yet coaches after have sought to change the style and with it have asked Sneijder do sacrifice himself for the team. As has been seen, this has led to issues on and off the pitch.
Sneijder’s desire to play the number 10 role, the trequartista has clearly affected not just Inter Milan but Holland too. In the 2012 Euro’s Holland were guilty of trying to accommodate Sneijder in a line up which should not have used atrequartista.
The team lacked balance and for all the quality on the pitch, Holland went out in the group stages. By making Sneijder an almost untouchable in the line up, the team suffered. Remember that this was not the same player from 2010 when he was fit and motivated. He was clearly not match fit for the Euro’s and yet was seemingly undroppable. This is the failing of the Holland coach Van Marwijk yet also shows Sneijder’s personality and selifishness to not sacrifice himself for the team.
It is important to note that whereas many regard Sneijder as an “attacking midfielder” he is in fact more of a “second striker”. This is where the problems of his suitability arise. Under Mourinho he was not instructed to track back and help his midfield when defending. His role was to wait for a counter attack and be in space to receive the ball. Other managers since have asked him to play deeper and support his midfield when defending, something he does not wish to do. This does highlight a worrying problem for clubs who are viewing his suitability to “fit in” with their side.
A circus at Inter caused by bad management
The past 18 months in Milan have been something of a circus at Inter..... continued at The Enigma that is Wesley Sneijder
*The Whitehouse Address is an award winning writer at footballspeak.com covering the major issues that are happening in the game of football. He is not an Inter or Serie A fan, so please be nice
let me summarize the entire article in 4 words
"sneijder's greedy, management's retarded"
I agree with your second striker point. To me that was always sneijder's position, he doesn't have the distribution abilities to be an AM.
He can only provide defence splitting passes, but he can't calm the game down.
Even under Mourinho he played so close to Milito it was almost a 4-4-2, with Eto'o and Pandev as wingers.
If I was Sneijder, it would've gone away a long time ago. This is crazy, what the fuck is wrong with Moratti?
Originally Posted by ninuk
That basically sums it up!
i still love sneijder cuz of our fantastic treble win. Grande sneijder for all the good memories, gunna miss u, u son of a gun.
That treble winning season I will never forget... Sneijder was so fucking good that year! I am still surprised he didn't win the Ballon D'or in 2010, I guess he was just a Euro final win away from winning that award he deserved...
Originally Posted by victor_inter
he is still a quality player, to bad he doesnt suit our playing style these days.