Thanks for the memories Wesley
By Max De Luca
With Wesley Sneijder’s protracted transfer saga coming to an end Inter president Massimo Moratti has bid adieu to another gem from his treble prize-winning collection of 2010. The Dutch dynamo put pen to paper on a deal with Galatasaray on Sunday evening, providing some much needed closure for all parties involved.
The divorce was far from acrimonious, unlike fellow Dutchman Robin van Persie's departures from Arsenal, but it did leave some Inter fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. However, no Wesley $neijder signs will be held up nor will he be jeered if he ever returns to than San Siro, a fate which befell former Inter darling Zlatan Ibrahimovic a few years back.
While most supporters are breathing a sigh of relief and are ready to move on the Netherlands international provided some thrilling moments that will forever be etched in the hearts of Interisti everywhere. Sneijder was given a baptism by fire, thrown into the starting line-up in the derby della Madonnina mere hours after arriving in the city from Madrid. He acquitted himself well in the 4-0 rout of Milan and an unbridled sense of excitement permeated throughout the Giuseppe Meazza.
Sneijder hoped to follow in the footsteps of Esteban Cambiasso and Walter Samuel, who both went from Real Madrid rejects to indispensible at Inter. It wasn’t love at first site though as Inter fans had seen their fair share of Dutch flops at the club. Players like Andy van der Meyde and Dennis Bergkamp flattered to deceive and Nerazzurri supporters were skeptical. Still Sneijder was driven to make this work and their relationship blossomed. He played an integral role in the treble-winning campaign of 2010, scoring vital goals against Dynamo Kiev and Barcelona to power the Nerazzurri to European glory. Sneijder was also just a missed Arjen Robben breakaway in the second half of the 2010 World Cup final from winning every tournament that year.
He was widely seen as one of the favourites for the Ballon d’Or but was inexplicably omitted from the final three-man short list. That shambolic snub aside he continued to shine for the Beneamata even when Jose Mourinho took his talents to the Santiago Bernabeu that summer. Sneijder was still a key player for the club under new coach Leonardo and thrived in his attacking system. However, things began to unravel after the Brazilian tactician left for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2011.
Niggling injuries became a problem for Sneijder and so did the three successive coaches, who failed to make their mark at San Siro. Andrea Stramaccioni then took the helm in March 2012 and was immediately dogged by questions of where Sneijder fit into his plans. Club and player put on a brave face but their relationship was effectively over when Moratti asked him to take a paycut this year.
The 28-year-old’s departure marks the end of an era as a plethora of influential players such as Julio Cesar, Lucio, Maicon, Samuel Eto’o, Thiago Motta and Mario Balotelli have moved on since that magical night in Madrid.
It must not be forgotten that Inter had been chronic underachievers in Europe before Sneijder’s arrival, a series of calamities and curses dooming the club for 45 years. Instead of harping on his last tumultuous days at the club, he should be remembered as the diminutive Dutch artist who played a pivotal role in bringing Le Grande Inter back to life.