When a player like Paul Scholes wanders off into the sunset, it is generally considered right for their to be a short period of mourning; a time when you remember everything that player achieved throughout such an illustrious career.
According to Sir Alex Ferguson, that time is most definitely. The driven Scotsman is not one for gratuitous sentiment, and that can be witnessed plainly as his hunt for Scholes’ replacement is very much under way. After apparently deciding that Samir Nasri of Arsenal wasn’t the right choice, he has now set his sights firmly on Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder. But is the Dutch midfielder really the man that Ferguson needs in order to maintain his side’s relentless grip on the English game?
A few issues have been raised regarding the deal, the main one being the amount of money it will cost to prise Sneijder away from Italy. The problem isn’t so much the expenditure, as United have shown this summer through stretching their financial muscles that the Glazers, whether you’re a fan of them or not, are willing to back Ferguson by buying who he wants. The potential downside lies in the fact that Sneijder is 27 years old, and the United boss is not a fan of spending big on players who are approaching their 30s. He certainly doesn’t want another Juan Sebastian Veron at the club, the Argentine unable to settle into the pace of the Premier League arguably due to having spent the majority of his career in Italy.
Fortunately Sneijder has experience, albeit somewhat unhappily at Real Madrid, outside of Italy, so the new style of football should not phase him. Besides, he is from the country that invented the fast flowing, fluid version of the game; it’s in his blood.
If anything using the Dutchman’s age as a potential stumbling block is just a get-out clause in case Ferguson isn’t able to sign him, and what with his experience in the Champion’s League and at the World Cup he is hardly an unknown quantity. There’s not much chance of him turning into a Veron or, worse, a Bébé.
So he is hardly a gamble. But how would he fit into the Manchester United midfield?
A lot is made about players coming in as replacements for others, especially when their predecessor was a legend at the club. But in this case, it almost seems wrong to talk about Sneijder as a direct replacement for Scholes. The man is a World Cup finalist and a brilliant player in his own right, but unfortunately he would be coming into a midfield gap that is so fresh you can almost still see the skid marks on the pitch from the last questionable tackle.
It seems that generally United fans feel that if they had a choice between the two players that have been mooted as taking the place of Paul Scholes, being Nasri or Sneijder, they would rather have the Inter Milan midfielder in their team next season.
If this move does indeed come to pass, it would be a wonderful bit of business by the Old Trafford club. Without a doubt Sneijder has what it takes to succeed in England, and although it would break from Ferguson’s policy of buying them while they’re young and moulding them himself, the Dutchman is definitely an exception to the rule that should be made.
Written by Tom Close for Football FanCast