Reports are abound this Friday that Martin Oâ€™Neill has confirmed Aston Villaâ€™s interest in bringing Real Madridâ€™s central midfielder Wesley Sneijder to the midlands. Having spent Â£210 million on a new set of galacticos, it is no secret that Los Blancos are now trying to offset their spending, with all non-essential personnel available for sale if the price is right.
Sneijder began his career at Ajax and made 126 appearances netting 43 goals, an excellent return from a non-forward. Then, at 22-years-old, the Dutchman’s excellent form caught Realâ€™s attention and a fee of â‚¬27 million was agreed between the two clubs.
In the two seasons he has spent at Los Blancos Sneijder has claimed 11 goals in 52 games. While not always a starter in Madrid, his overall form has been positive at the Bernabeu, and he was rewarded by being handed the coveted number 10 shirt after Robinho departed Real to join Manchester City.
Standing at 5 ft 7 inches the diminutive midfielder is a midfield general. Sneijder is strong in possession and it is difficult to bully him off the ball. He is two-footed, has an excellent passing range and possesses fantastic technical ability. Complementing all of this is his dynamic engine which also permits him to act as a box to box midfielder. In addition he is a dead-ball specialist.
The one drawback is Sneijderâ€™s injury proneness. Over the past two seasons he has missed four months due to knee injuries, not a good sign for a young player. In the hurly-burly world of a Premier League football, midfielders with sturdy knees are a necessity if they are to compete and play week in, week out.
(Sneijder’s knee injury picked up against Arsenal can be seen here.)
Sneijder would be an excellent acquisition for Villa. While some commentators have talked up the suggestion that the newly acquired teenager Fabian Delph will be handed the responsibility of replacing the former club captain Gareth Barry, rumours linking Sneijder to Villa Park points to an understanding that Delph still needs time to mature. As such, the Dutch maestro would fit in perfectly into Villa’s midfield, providing Oâ€™Neill with the strength in depth needed across the middle of the park.
However, bringing in Sneijder may prove a bridge too far for Oâ€™Neill. Soren Lerby, the playerâ€™s agent has stated that the Dutch number 10 is determined to stay and fight for his place At Real. Further, it is doubtful that a player of such ability and stature will want to move to a club that can not offer him Champions League football.
Although O’Neill’s powers of persuasion are legendary and the â‚¬19 million transfer fee offered is an attractive one, we highly doubt he will be wearing Villaâ€™s claret and blue next season.
Video evidence of Wesley Sneijder can be seen here.