For every "Manchester United Transfer Rumours" article, there is an end slide labelled "Wesley Sneijder," but will Sir Alex Ferguson really be bringing the Dutch midfield maestro to Old Trafford in January?
For a while now, Sneijder has been touted as Man United's replacement for Paul Scholes, but it seems that United fans and pundits alike have begun to blind themselves with a name and a price tag.
Should Fergie splash out in January? Here are my reasons for why I think that he won't.
Back in August, during the summer window, SAF said the following to the Manchester Evening News:
"You can forget anyone you like. I am happy with the young players I have got."
So will Fergie continue the same mentality into the January window? Well, for a start, we all know that Sir Alex doesn't favour signing players in January because he doesn't believe they make the same impact which they would in the summer, which, admittedly in most cases, is right.
However, this year, there is a difference. Ferguson has taken some big knocks to his squad over the last six weeks, including the losses of Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley from his midfield.
Will this cause SAF to panic buy in January? It's pretty unlikely, as we know Sir Alex to be a fairly cool character when it comes to making transfers, and he won't be pressured into buying big players like Sneijder.
Sir Alex even says it himself. Speaking to manutd.com, he said:
I don't think I'll change my tactic on that [buying in January] because, if there's a player who I have been interested in, and he was available in January, we would try and do business, but there's no such player really on the horizon that way, unless we can identify someone we've been monitoring a lot because we don't buy just on a whim at this club.
So there you have it. Sir Alex won't be signing any new players in January, including Sneijder. Or is this just another Sir Alex mind game?
SAF's transfer habits aside, Sneijder isn't necessarily the player that United are looking for. Saying that Sneijder has been suggested as a potential replacement for Paul Scholes, you have to admit that he's not a very similar player.
Scholes (particularly in the later stages of his career) preferred reading the game from deep, using his pin-point accurate passing to set up attacking plays. Sneijder, on the other hand, has a more bull-ish attack minded approach, which lacks the defensive qualities which Scholes offered.
Essentially, signing Sneijder would add another attacking midfielder to the side in a team which already has at least four players who can play well in that position. Do United really need to add a fifth?
Maybe people would now begin the argument that buying Sneijder could mean that Wayne Rooney can begin to push up at focus on scoring goals again.
Even if this was the case, we've seen Wayne's passion for the game track him back into midfield because he wants to see more of the ball. Playing just off of the striker seems to be a position which he enjoys because he gets more time on the ball. I personally can't imagine Sneijder and Rooney playing well together.
While arguably the most underrated player in the United squad, Michael Carrick has quietly been filling in the role that Paul Scholes left behind.
Like it or not, Carrick has been one of United's better players this season. His defensive positioning has meant that the other midfielders have felt more comfortable going forward, meaning that United have been able to mount good attacking plays while having someone holding the fort at the back.
This has also given the full backs the opportunity to get up the wings to join the attack. Here's what Sir Alex thinks of Carrick's season so far:
He’s grabbed the nettle, there’s no question about that. In some ways, he’s maybe seen the departure of Paul Scholes as his opportunity to be the main man in midfield. I think it’s time Michael became the pivotal player of our team. We’ve always known he’s got that in him. He’s a laid-back character – quiet and unassuming – but in different periods during his time here he’s shown his quality. Now is the time for him to start a long period of dominating the centre of midfield like he has in the last few weeks. Michael’s been one of our best players. He’s been instrumental in what’s happening to the team at the moment. His performances have been quite outstanding.
Of course, after Carrick, Manchester also have youngsters like Paul Pogba and Phil Jones waiting in the wings to take over in the next couple of years, although Tom Cleverley looks the favourite to take over the Scholes role.
However for now, "Marmite" Carrick looks set to make the role his own.
An odd argument maybe, as in the summer rumours that Sneijder wanted to move to United were rife.
This morning, speaking to ESPN Soccernet, Sneijder said the following:
If I must give a percentage for it, I think I am 90% certain I will stay [until at least the summer]. I enjoy myself here at the moment and at this point I don't have anything to choose from. I don't say that I am 100% certain, because something unexpected can always happen.
Admittedly, he says that he could move if the offer came up, but he's enjoying his season at Inter and there is no real need to rush any move like this through in January.
Equally, Sneijder is an important player at Inter, and manager Claudio Ranieri has stated that he wants to keep the player at the club and take them forward:
Sneijder is our prize jewel. He has to give 120 per cent. He mustn't just be part of the squad; he has to be our leader, the one who takes us by the hand and shows us the way to great things.
Eden Hazard, Mario Goetze, Luka Modric, Javi Martinez, Nicolas Gaitan, Rasmus Elm, Christian Eriksen, Jack Rodwell, the list goes on.
You name the talented youngster, and they've been linked with Old Trafford at some point in the last six months. All of these names have got a few extra years in the tank than Sneijder, and could be signed for a fractionally cheaper price.
A couple of these names, like Eriksen, Martinez and Rodwell, play a role similar to that of Scholes, which already puts them one up on Wesley.
There's no way that Inter will sell Sneijder for any less than £30million, and the end sum would likely be even higher than that.
Of course, if United are willing to put in an offer, then they could be faced with a bidding war. Barcelona, Man City and Chelsea have all been linked with Sneijder, and all three of these teams would be willing to put up astronomical sums to secure his signature.
Then we move onto the matter of wages. Sneijder would likely be looking for wages that verge onto £250,000 a week. This may not sound too bad for one player, in a world where a player like Yaya Toure was told to name his price.
By knock-on effect, I am of course referring to other players in the squad who would feel that they deserved parity with Sneijder. I wouldn't doubt that someone like Rooney has a "match highest earner" clause in his contract.