Wesley Sneijder's departure from Internazionale has seemed inevitable ever since the club asked him to take a pay cut back in September and he hasn't suited up for the Nerazzurri since. At long last, the interminable saga over the Dutch captain's transfer appears to be nearing its conclusion. Inter have accepted a bid of €10m from Turkish club Galatasary for the midfielder's services. Though it remains to be seen whether Sneijder will accept the move, for Spurs' sake we should hope he does before Daniel Levy gets any bright ideas.
It wasn't so long ago that Sneijder was a world class footballer with a €35m price tag whose signature was coveted by every top club in Europe. In 2009-2010, Sneijder arguably should have won the Ballon d'Or ahead of Messi for his dominance across club and international football. He led Inter to victory in the Champions League on their road to a historic treble, the first for any Italian club. To cap the season off, he then took the Netherlands to the World Cup Final where only an injury time goal separated them from the all-conquering Spanish.
Since then? The fairy tale hasn't gone quite according to script. Though he's been linked with Manchester United every transfer window since 2011, there's a good reason why Fergie never made the move. Because behind the smokescreen of all the hype and accolades lay a man whose form and fitness were slowly but clearly deteriorating.
He's never hit the highs of his transcendent 2010 season, that much should be obvious to anyone. 2011 saw Inter surrender their title to their Milanese rivals and last year saw them slide even further down the table as they finished an embarrassing sixth. They suffered a terrible start to the season and until Sneijder's November injury, they languished in the bottom half of the table.
It's no coincidence that over the three months Sneijder was out of the starting lineup Inter put together their best form of the season. The fallen giants surged up the table, winning 9 from 10, including a 7 match winning streak that left them in fourth place. As soon as he returned to the starting XI? They lost 7 of their next 8.
And now without Sneijder, lo and behold, Inter is back in contention for the Champions League and still within touching distance of the title. The man who once made Inter tick has become a liability.
In addition to his poor form, his fitness has been an issue. Frequent injury setbacks means he's made fewer appearances every successive year since his Champions League triumph. In fact, he hasn't hit 30 league games in a season since his first season at Real Madrid. If we wanted an aging Dutch playmaker with injury problems, we could have just as easily kept Rafael van der Vaart. And at least Rafa was playing well and happy to be here.
If we could guarantee that he would come anywhere close to the levels he once reached, he would be worth every penny of his likely £100k a week wages. But we can't and he won't so he isn't. For those of you who don't think all that talent could just disappear, ask Fernando Torres where the back of the net is. While it's true Sneijder hasn't reached the same laughing stock status, he's still a shadow of the player he once was. It's entirely possible that a change of scenery is all he needs to be reborn, but if it doesn't work out Spurs are stuck carrying player who is completely unsellable. Nobody will buy an injury-prone 30 year old on those wages if he flops again, and that's £5m a year we're stuck paying him that Tottenham really can't afford to fritter away. Wesley Sneijder is a huge gamble we can't afford to take.