The Dutchman was hauled off after 45 minutes against Real Madrid, and it can now be safely said that the old Sneijder will never return
By Enis Koylu
In January, this author argued that Wesley Sneijder’s decline had become irreversible following his step down from Serie A to the Turkish Super Lig. The Dutchman’s performances for Galatasaray since leaving Inter have done nothing to convince the world otherwise, and last night’s dreadful display against former team Real Madrid was undoubtedly the final nail in the coffin.
While there was a chance for Sneijder to get his career back on track in Istanbul, with the Nerazzurri in decline and the Turkish champions planning ambitiously for the future, the 28-year-old has simply failed to take it.
His fall from grace at Inter was astonishing. After leading them to an historic treble in 2010, the succession of unsuccessful coaches at San Siro and his injury problems saw him fall away from the first team, exemplified by the club’s demands that he must accept a paycut to stay.
Sneijder’s move to Galatasaray this January gave him the opportunity to star in the Champions League and prove everyone wrong. Unfortunately for the Dutchman, though, he has failed to justify the Istanbul club’s €25.5 million total outlay for him.
While Dider Drogba, the other big name who made his way to the Turk Telekom Arena, took just five minutes to make an impact in a yellow and red shirt, Sneidjer’s performances have been poor.
He has been sacrificed at half-time in two of his three Champions League games with the club, the home leg against Schalke in the last 16 and Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Real Madrid, and his inability to play in any position but ‘the hole’ left his side with an abominable lack of width which ultimately led to their downfall.
Sneijder’s domestic form has not been much better. A complete passenger for many games, he has only scored twice, against Orduspor and Kayserispor – perfectly ordinary teams whom Galatasaray would have beaten anyway.
The nadir was his performance at the Bernabeu. Playing at his old home against his old coach, Jose Mourinho, on the world’s biggest stage, Sneijder was a non-entity, leaving coach Fatih Terim to make excuses for another shoddy showing.
“Sneijder was taken off at half-time,” he commented after the match. “Not because he was injured, but because he worked hard and was tired.”
The truth is, though, Sneijder is enduring the same problems he suffered after Mourinho’s departure from San Siro. His deployment forces a tactical reshuffle, and the resultant lack of width handed Madrid the advantage.
His signing by Galatasaray was an unnecessary one, born out of the ruthless ambition of president Unal Aysal, who seems more concerned with increasing Galatasaray’s global brand than creating a cohesive football team.
When Sneijder signed for Galatasaray, he admitted that he was no longer in the world’s top five players. Well, he probably isn’t in the top 100 any more, either.
Gala will be back. They look good value to secure the Super Lig title once more, but Sneijder does not look to be the man to lead the club to a fresh wave of success, particularly given the heroics of the likes of Burak Yilmaz and Selcuk Inan on a regular basis.
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