Long term Manchester United target Wesley Sneijder looks like he's finally ready to ditch Inter Milan for pastures new, after reports emerged that he's unhappy with his situation at the Italian side. With Russian giants Anzhi also looming, it could take some significant money to tempt Sneijder from the Nerazurri, but that shouldn't stop Manchester United, who proved they're prepared to pay big for top talent with Robin Van Persie in the summer. Crucially, the Dutchman isn't cup-tied, having only taken part in the Europa League this season, which would make him eligible for the Champions League knockout stages if United make it through. talkSPORT explain the five reasons why Wesley Sneijder is the final piece in the puzzle for United if they want to lift the European Cup this season...
1. Sneijder is the player Manchester United REALLY needed in the summer
Robin van Persie has proven an inspired signing for United, but more than a few eyebrows were raised in the summer when the deal went through, with it generally agreed that the Red Devils were in need of a top quality midfielder, not a forward. Wayne Rooney's presence in a deeper role for United only serves to highlight their lack of true talent in the middle of the park and, in bringing the Dutchman to Old Trafford, the Red Devils would be landing one of the top midfielders in the world. Though injury stopped Sneijder from performing at his best last season, the Dutchman still managed to make 20 league appearances in 2011/12, scoring four and assisting five, suggesting he's still capable of producing his best if he can stay fit. Inter have lost many of their best players in recent times and Sneijder's world class talent deserves a better platform.
2. The Dutch connection
Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder have been team mates for seven years with the Dutch national side and their close understanding in a key area of the pitch could help to make the settling in process as seemless as possible for the Inter man. Any team looking to win the European Cup needs a strong core and, with Sneijder pulling the strings in the middle of the park, he would be able to draw upon his instinctive knowledge of Robin van Persie's movement and behaviour from their games together with Holland, to use that to their advantage at United. If Wayne Rooney could click with Sneijder in the way he has done so successfully with Van Persie, United could have one of the deadliest attacking triangles in Europe.
RVP couldn't apply the finish on this occasion, but Sneijder clearly knows the striker's movement like the back of his hand...
3. Hunger and experience is a deadly combination
Inter's fall from grace after winning the treble under Jose Mourinho will have hugely frustrated Sneijder, a player used to competing comfortably with the best sides both domestically and on the continent. The Dutchman will be itching to win a major prize once more, and his arrival at Old Trafford would provide extra motivation for Manchester United's current squad. Sneijder isn't the only player around with experience of lifting Europe's biggest prize, but crucially, he's one of the few who has also tasted the disappointment necessary to reignite the spark that can drive him and his team on through the tough second half of the season. Experience and hunger are a rare but deadly combination in a footballer.
4. The perfect replacement for Paul Scholes
The Inter midfielder has been around long enough to be considered a veteran, yet he's still only 28, and should be experiencing his peak years. At United he may be asked to move into a deeper position and play the role Paul Scholes made his own at the club, but that could equally serve to his advantage, allowing the Inter man to focus on controlling the direction of the Red Devils' attack while only being required to get forward when it's absolutely essential. Moreover, if the Dutchman can play on to the same age as Paul Scholes, United would get nearly 10 years out of him, making him the perfect replacement for the ginger genius. Sneijder's ability to keep the ball, pick out a pass, dictate the pace of a game and his eye for goal are all qualities he shares with Scholes, and he can also give them an added boost of energy that the veteran Englishman can no longer call upon. Though Sneijder tends to operate as a number ten, he does have experience of playing a more central role throughout his career, so it's unlikely he would struggle to adapt to a more withdrawn position.
If the perfect replacement for Paul Scholes is available, United surely have to fight for his signature...
5. Beating Barcelona
On two occasions over the last four years Manchester United have only been one step away from lifting their third Champions League trophy of the Ferguson era, only to falter against the immovable object of Barcelona. Sneijder not only knows what it's like to beat Barcelona, but how to beat Barcelona well, playing in a Real Madrid side that humiliated the Catalans 4-1 in 2008, ending their vain hope of lifting the league title and also drawing time on the Frank Rijkaard era. Better still, Sneijder played a key role in the Mourinho-orchestrated toppling of Barca in Europe in 2010, scoring Inter's equaliser in the first leg at the San Siro and showing futher versatility by helping to lead the line in the return leg at the Nou Camp. Bringing in one of the few players to out-think Barcelona in an effort to replicate that feat for United surely isn't a bad idea.
Bringing in a player with plenty of experience of beating Barcelona could be a good idea if United want to replicate that feat...
Do you agree? Should Manchester United now make Wesley Sneijder their number one target and ensure a side like Anzhi doesn't land him first? Leave your comment below...