Wesley Sneijder: Picking a Manchester United XI to Include the Dutchman
Manchester United hasn't done so badly signing Dutch players in the last decade or so. The likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin van der Sar and most recently Robin van Persie immediately come to mind in that respect.
If the latest rumours are to be believed (and let's be honest, most of the time they aren't), Wesley Sneijder could soon follow in his countrymen's footsteps and make the high-profile move to Old Trafford this January (via The Guardian).
A contract standoff with current club Inter Milan has seen the player's worth plummet, with some believing he could be acquired for as little as £12 million (although this doesn't take into account his astronomical wages in excess of £200,000 a week).
The Red Devils have tracked the 28-year-old since 2010, with Sir Alex Ferguson known to be a huge admirer of his talents.
So why not pick a potential United starting XI to include the superstar? The transfer may be one more akin to FIFA 13 than reality, but you just never know with Fergie.
A typical No. 10, the Dutchman seems to only feel comfortable playing the trequartista role for Inter, with little inclination for dropping back and helping his team defensively. Although he clearly prefers to play in behind a lone striker, he often has a tendency to drift out to the flanks in his quest for as many touches of the ball as possible.
His long-range passing and shooting abilities have always been a key aspect of his game—in many respects he is very similar to the type of player that Wayne Rooney has swiftly developed into this term.
One possible formation that would suit Sneijder is the diamond, but that would require Rooney pushing up alongside van Persie in attack, removing him from the deeper-lying position that he has so excelled in.
There is also the 4-4-2, but Sneijder is such an attacking player, there would be a real lack of defensive cover in the shape of his central partner.
So how do you include both the Dutchman and Rooney in the same lineup?
I've plumped for Tom Cleverley alongside Anderson in a three-man central midfield ahead of the Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa, and also included Michael Carrick in his natural holding position.
Sneijder has the natural disposition to push forward as much as possible, so the concept of him playing alongside a Carrick or Darren Fletcher in a deeper role is fatally flawed.
United's defensive deficiencies this season has been in large part due to a lack of midfield support—teaming Sneijder up with Michael Carrick in the 4-2-3-1 would only make matters worse.
Some have called him a natural successor to Paul Scholes in the past, but this would obviously be a comparison with the playmaking, marauding Scholes of old, rather than the one who prefers to sit back and dictate play, today.
The 4-3-2-1 is a formation that United has never favoured in the past, mostly due to the great wealth in wingers previous squads have had. The setup is typically continental, and is one Inter themselves have often deployed with Antonio Cassano, Ricardo Alvarez and Philippe Coutinho all better suited to central positions.
Full-backs Rafael and Patrice Evra would be required to bomb up and down the flanks, while both Anderson and Cleverley would take on more free-form roles.
The formation would also give Rooney and Sneijder far more freedom to roam the pitch in the total football vein than the more rigid 4-2-3-1, no doubt causing havoc for opposition defences.
This of course leaves Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young on the bench, but if Sir Alex were to add to the attacking riches currently available at Old Trafford, it is inevitable that there are going to be top-quality players missing out.
Of course, the United manager may yet target a defensive/box-to-box midfielder in the winter transfer window like Kevin Strootman or Victor Wanyama before any other options are pursued, however tempting the potential bargain may be.
In my mind, not a single penny should be spent before this obvious weakness in the team is overcome.
But if the Scotsman does decide to defy his tradition of keeping his hands in his pockets in January and take a punt on Sneijder, fans will be frothing at the mouth at the prospect of an attacking lineup capable of beating any in world football.
What do you make of the Wesley Sneijder to Manchester United transfer rumour? Would he fit in the side's current system?
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