Friday, July 19, 2013
The demise of Wesley Sneijder
It's the summer of 2010, Wesley Sneijder has just completed a historic treble with Inter Milan under the guidance of Jose Mourinho and finds himself facing Spain at the World Cup Final in South Africa. This could be it. With 5 goals already to his name, and sharing the top goalscorer spot at the World Cup with 3 strikers, Sneijder could finally prove to the world that he truly is the best player on the planet in 2010.
60 minutes gone, Wesley Sneijder gets possession of the ball and slices through a brilliant pass to Arjen Robben. One on one with Iker Casillas. A Robben goal from a Sneijder pass would be the icing on the cake for the former Real Madrid rejects, but the Spanish captain comes out on top and makes a vital save. Spain go on to win the game 1-0 in extra-time and lift the World Cup. From that moment onward, Wesley Sneijder's career has been one of the most bizarre demises in this day and age.
He was being spoken about as the favorite to lift the Ballon D'Or trophy in 2010, instead he didn't even make the top 3 as he had to watch Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi enjoy the spoils. He was linked heavily with a move to Manchester United that summer which ultimately led to him signing a contract extension at the San Siro. However, little did we know it at the time, Mourinho's departure from Inter that same summer would have a huge effect on his future.
Couple of years down the line, a lot of partying, a lot of smoking, several injuries and some private trips without informing the club; Inter Milan decided to renegotiate his contract and offer him a lower salary than what he was already earning. That obviously didn't work and the club tried its best to get rid of him unsuccessfully. Fast forward to the start of the 2012/13 season and Sneijder barely makes any appearances (8 games) for the club. He's often training alone. He's often critical of the club and vice versa, before he eventually gets shipped off to Galatasaray in January. His fiery character, short temper and refusal to accept his own decline (very much of his own making, aside from the injuries) got the better of him and he's now on the comeback trail in Istanbul alongside Didier Drogba. As the famous meme goes "that escalated quickly". In football terms, it took him less than 2 years to completely go from hero to zero.
However, with this being a World Cup year, we shouldn't put it past Sneijder making a sensational return to the spotlight for the right reasons. He's still only 29 years old and this should be the peak of his career. But 17 appearances for Galatasaray since January (only 3 of which he finished the full 90 minutes), 4 goals and 1 assist doesn't impress anyone and Sneijder himself will know he has to do better than that if he wants to get anywhere near what he achieved in 2010.
He's apparently seeing an osteopath (recommended by Drogba) to sort out his physical issues and is on a heavy fitness regime in an attempt to get back to the peak of his powers for the World Cup next year. Could it possibly happen? A fully fit and effective Sneijder leading the Dutch to the World Cup in Brazil? Well, not really, because in the meantime Louis Van Gaal (Holland's coach) has stripped the captaincy off of him and given it to his arch-rival and hated Dutch team-mate Robin Van Persie...a player he's publicly claimed to dislike and not get along with due to a dispute over a free-kick during Euro 2008 against Russia. This could be the bitterest pill to swallow for Sneijder, but Van Gaal has a reputation for riling up players to perform better and this could be the biggest incentive for Wesley to do the unthinkable.