What happened Wes?
Frozen out at Inter Milan and apparently lacking suitors this transfer window, Rachel Griffiths looks at where it's all gone wrong for Wesley Sneijder.
Last Updated: January 18, 2013 3:28pm
Wesley Sneijder: Has suffered fall from grace since Inter's Treble-winning season
Two seasons ago, Wesley Sneijder was one of the hottest properties in Europe.
The playmaker was lynchpin in Jose Mourinho's Treble-winning Inter Milan side, as well as the stand-out player for Holland during their run to the 2010 World Cup final, with some even arguing he should have won the Ballon D'Or over Lionel Messi the same year.
Clubs were falling over themselves to enlist the Dutchman, with Premier League heavyweights Manchester United fronting a barrage of interest from Europe's top sides.
Fastforward to the current transfer window, and the Sneijder star is burning somewhat less brightly.
Frozen out at Inter, reportedly for his refusal to take the pay cut that would come with a new contract, Sneijder appears to have no option but to move on from the club where he has previously enjoyed so much success.
However, the question now is where is there for the 28-year-old go?
This quandary arises in no small part because of the financial punch a swoop for Sneijder would pack. While the playmaker's price tag is now thought to be a cut-price €10million, his towering wages are unlikely to fit the transfer policy of the average club, with the Dutchman reportedly earning more than £6.5million a year after tax from his Inter contract.
Sneijder has stated his next move will not be driven by the size of the wages on offer but despite that insistence, he's unlikely to come cheap.
If his salary is indeed limiting his options it would make sense why, despite ongoing links with a host of clubs including Tottenham, Liverpool and - inevitably - Manchester United, the only club who appear to have made a concrete move are Turkish side Galatasaray.
Gala are understood to be willing to satisfy his wage demands but it seems Sneijder is not quite packing his bags and boarding the plane to Istanbul just yet, with reports suggesting he is hopeful of a Premier League club swooping in to snatch him from under the Turkish club's noses.
He might be out of luck. The number of English clubs who need a midfielder of Sneijder's ilk and can actually afford him seem limited, with questions raised over whether the likes of Spurs, fronted by a chairman who has repeatedly shown he will not be bullied into paying inflated fees, would be willing to part with the cash.
Manchester United, so long linked with the playmaker and thought to have held talks with him in 2011 over a potential deal that never materialised, have turned to other options in the absence of a transfer, shipping in the younger, rawer and cheaper Shinji Kagawa last summer and bringing on promising academy product Tom Cleverley.
If Liverpool, who have just offloaded big-earner Joe Cole to West Ham to ease their own wage bill and are yet to see the best of midfielder Joe Allen, are willing to put together the financial package for Sneijder there could be a place for him in Brendan Rodgers' midfield alongside the talismanic Steven Gerrard, with the prospect of what the two could achieve together no doubt appealing to Reds fans.
But Sneijder's price tag is not the only factor to be taken into account. His slump in form is bound to be another issue keeping former suitors at bay.
Since his glittering 2009-10 season, the playmaker has struggled to find his best form. Mourinho left for Real Madrid and Sneijder struggled to put together a consistent run of first-team performances as niggling injuries took their toll.
This term, Inter have come to rely on him less and less as he has faded out of the side on the back of his contract dispute, making just five appearances. Any interested parties who take a punt on him in the current transfer window would be purchasing a midfielder who hasn't been hitting his top form for a long while, has struggled with persistent injuries and is lacking match fitness.
But that's not to say Sneijder won't return to his best. At 28, the playmaker is far from past his peak and, if he does rediscover his form, could make a worthy addition to any midfield.
His reputation as a world class star, cemented by his exploits two years ago, may have lost some of its shine but still holds significant charm, with his signing the kind of marquee capture that would appeal to plenty of fans in the Premier League.
Italian newspaper Tuttosport's report on Friday that Liverpool will bid for him in the next 48 hours would suggest the Holland international still has the star power to sway a move.
But, as it stands, Sneijder is in a rut. His career at Inter has stalled and a fresh start at a new club could be the trigger needed to get him back to the form that lit up Europe.
Whether he can still attract the kind of club to inspire that change remains to be seen.