Wesley Sneijder is on the verge of trading Italy for Turkey, according to widespread reports around Europe. If it does happen, and Sneijder joins Galatasaray from Inter Milan, the Dutchman's journey across the Mediterranean would illustrate how far his star has fallen in less than three years.
BBC Sport reports that Inter Milan have accepted Galatasaray's bid, thought to be around €10 million, for Sneijder. Crucially, Galatasaray are thought to have agreed to meet Sneijder's prohibitive salary demands.
Sneijder, 28, has not played for Inter since Sept. 25. In November, Inter told Sneijder he would not play for the club again until he agreed to take a paycut. Sneijder declined and since then has been linked with several clubs.
From BBC Sport:
Inter president Massimo Moratti said: "Galatasaray's offer satisfies us. Now it depends on the player."
Galatasaray, for all their rich history, don't fit that description.
Istanbul, for all its obvious beauty, is not the footballing equivalent of Milan.
According to Sky Sports' Bryan Swanson, Galatasaray have said Sneijder has 24 hours to decide his future. If he does move to Turkey, it could only be seen as a step down for a man who was a bona fide superstar less than three years ago.
Galatasaray: "Wesley Sneijder will give us a response inside 24 hours." Inter Milan: "Their offer satisfies us."— Bryan Swanson (@skysports_bryan) January 10, 2013
Sneijder had the world at his feet in 2010. Champions League glory with Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan preceded Holland's run to the World Cup final. The Dutch playmaker held a starring role in both.
“He is what Manchester United needs. There's no-one like him right now,” United legend Eric Cantona said in the summer of 2011 (via Daily Mail). “He's strong. Sometimes he reminds me of myself.”
Coming from the flamboyantly self-assured Frenchman, there couldn't have been much higher praise. However, the interminable transfer saga ended with Sneijder still in Italy, and before long his trajectory began to trend downward.
Mourinho left Inter for Real Madrid the summer after winning the Champions League, and over the following season Sneijder struggled to regain his 2010 form due to a series of injuries. By the fall of 2012, Inter told Sneijder he must take a paycut or sit on the sidelines.
He chose to sit out, and now his best option appears to be in Istanbul.
In 2010, any club in the world would have wanted Sneijder in their squad. Today, Sneijder might see himself as worthy of only world-class clubs, but his reality has changed in less than three years.