It’s the 22nd of May 2010, and Wesley Sneijder and his Inter team have just capped off the club’s greatest ever season by beating Bayern Munich 2-0. By beating the Germans in the Champions League final in the Santiago Bernabeu, Inter sealed their first ever treble, having won Serie A and the Coppa Italia in the previous weeks.
Sneijder was the fulcrum of the Inter side, led by the now Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. He’d been the outstanding performer of the season from centre-midfield, pulling the strings and generally wowing crowds with his armoury of crossfield balls and stunning long-range shots. His heroics throughout the season did not go unnoticed, far from it.
Over the next year Sneijder was the number one transfer target for most of Europe’s elite clubs, with Manchester United and rivals Manchester City seeming the most likely destination. Despite the touted asking price of £25M+, there were talks with United, and at some points it appeared extremely likely that he would sign and that United had finally found a natural successor to the almighty; Paul Scholes. The fans were excited, the player seemed keen, it looked like a match made in heaven. Well, not quite.
It didn’t take long for details on the failed deal to emerge. There was no official word from either United’s or Sneijder’s camp but it’s widely believed that the main stumbling block for the deal was Sneijder’s astronomical wage demands. On £100K+ per week, the Dutchman was seeking a deal worth £200K per week as well as bonuses. There was even mention of a request that United by his house in Milan and something to do with a private jet.
Were it a 22 year-old player with his best years ahead of him making these demands, there’s a chance the United hierarchy would have succumbed and accepted the offer. However, with Sneijder in his late 20s and with an apparent petulant attitude, it went against United’s transfer policy of not paying over the odds for players over 26 with little or no resale value. It spoke volumes about the player, and showed the less attractive side to the game. Here was a player who’d led his team to European glory and who had the chance to join another one of European football’s great institutions, possibly for the remainder of his career, but who was simply too greedy to be able to agree a deal.
And that leads us to the 22nd January 2013 and the news that Sneijder had completed an £8.4M transfer from Inter Milan to the Turkish league leaders. Inter accepted an offer from the Turkish club in early January and after weeks of procrastination and apparently waiting for an offer from England that never came, Sneijder signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the club.