For months, Sir Alex Ferguson’s rumoured interest in Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder has rumbled on. Now, if associated press reports in England are to be believed, Manchester United may be closing in on his signature.
Inter Milan are believed to be open to the idea of selling Sneijder for the right price, and their signing of Argentine midfielder Ricardo Alvarez last week suggest they are making plans to replace the Netherlands star.
Furthermore, Sneijder’s apparent interest in moving to England has encouraged United, and Dutch media has frequently reported that Sneijder is only interested in a move to Manchester United to replace Paul Scholes; a role he believed is perfect for him.
Last night, the United boss announced that it was unlikely Samir Nasri would make the move from Arsenal to Old Trafford, citing his belief that the French midfielder had already agreed a move elsewhere.
In addition to Nasri, Ferguson has long been credited with an interest in Tottenham’s Croatian maestro, Luka Madric.
Modric, however, has his heart set on a move to Chelsea, having expressed his wish to leave Tottenham but remain in London.
With both targets seemingly unrealistic signings for the Red Devils, it is now believed that Ferguson will return to his original transfer target, Sneijder, and reports suggest a deal could be concluded by the end of the week, with Inter in discussions with United over the transfer.
Ferguson was believed to be targeting Sneijder before the availability of Nasri became clear, but, with Arsene Wenger refusing to sell to United, and some reports suggesting United are not willing to pay the price anyway, Sneijder’s name has worked its way back into conversations around Old Trafford.
Ferguson spoke last night on the issue of replacing Paul Scholes, and, having ruled out the signing of Samir Nasri, he confirmed that United have two options on the table.
The first would be promoting from within the ranks at Old Trafford, and although this is a possibility, it is unlikely that Paul Pogba or Ravel Morrison would be ready to take on the role that Scholes played for United.
Another option, Ryan Tunnicliffe, will be loaned to Championship side Peterborough for a season, ruling him out of contention.
While all three players are tipped to have a very bright future ahead of them, they have only trained with the first team, and may need a season or two where they enjoy a more prominent role in the first team before they can replace Scholes.
Ferguson’s other option was to make a signing, and although he did say that short of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, there were no others like Scholes, the Scotsman added that any new addition to the ranks would require great vision, intelligence and an exceptional range of passing; all qualities possessed by Sneijder.
By not ruling out a move for Scholes’ replacement, Ferguson has made it clear that a transfer is a distinct possibility, and he opened the door to a move for Sneijder.
The Dutch midfielder is believed to be interested in a move to Old Trafford, despite sending out mixed messages over a transfer.
The Inter star has repeatedly told reporters that he was happy to remain at the San Siro for the forthcoming season, adding that he enjoyed life in Milan, but he has also admitted he does not know what the future holds for him, and he would leave the Italian club if they accepted an offer for him.
His mixed signals have likely been seen by United as a way to express his desire to join the English champions, but also appear loyal to Inter, so not to fall out of favour with the club should a move not materialise.
The lack of a complete denial from Sneijder does suggest he is open to a move.
Now, with Nasri and Modric out of the picture, United can concentrate fully on Sneijder.
His rumoured £35 million price tag does not appear to have put Ferguson off, now that the cheaper alternatives have been exhausted, although his wages could be a sticking point.
The Dutchman earns in excess of £200,000 per week in Milan, and with higher taxes in England, it is believed that United will have to offer him a financial package within the range of £250,000 a week to complete the deal.
If the Reds agree to these terms, then he will become the highest paid player at Old Trafford.
One other potential stumbling block was believed to be his wife’s reluctance to move from Milan to Manchester. However, she spoke yesterday to the press, and confirmed that she would be open to moving to Manchester, saying that she know what is was like if she lived there.
With Ferguson looking to complete his business early in the transfer window, as his quick moves for Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea attest, United will be hoping to wrap up a deal by the end of the week.
Sneijder (and his wife) are clearly open to moving to Manchester, while Inter Milan will sell for the right price if he wishes to move.
United have long been admirers of Sneijder’s talents, and now they have an opportunity to capture his signature it is difficult to believe that they will pass up the opportunity.
Should he sign for United, the search for Scholes’ replacement will have come to an end; and there probably isn’t a player more fitting of filling the role than Sneijder.