At 25 years of age, Wesley Sneijder made the decision to swap Real Madrid for Inter Milan. Then managed by Jose Mourinho, Sneijder was moulded into the perfect, hard working number 10 that the Portuguese manager craves. Acquired for a reported €15m, the low fee was pittance in a summer of high profile transfers.
Real Madrid spent big to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso in the summer of 2009 and the likes of Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Alvaro Negredo were all moved on to help fund that summer splurge. And, as such, Sneijder was one of the bargain buys of that window, particularly as Inter went on to secure the Champions League and Scudetto that season.
Having finished fourth in the 2010 Ballon d’Or voting behind Barcelona trio Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, it reinforced Sneijder’s impressive impact for Inter and, to an extent, the Italian side failed to properly replace the Dutchman upon his 2013 exit for Galatasaray. The Serie A powerhouse have had their fair share of players attempt to replicate Sneijder’s impact in a number 10 role over the last seven years, including Ever Banega, Radja Nainggolan and Stevan Jovetic, but none were capable of prying apart defences in the same vain as Sneijder, largely due to none a traditional creator in the same mould as the Dutchman.
Much was made of the number of signings Aston Villa made in the summer, so just four months on from the start of the campaign it’s alarming that the promoted club look likely to be the most active in the transfer window again.