Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sneijder perfect replacement for Scholes at United

To call current Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder want-away would be erroneous; he wants to stay, it's his club that want him to leave.

With such a surfeit of attacking options, Madrid are likely to force out the classy attacker. Rumors have the Dutch orchestrator possibly heading to Inter Milan, though he has rejected the move as recently as today.

If only one would implore the miniature former Ajax master to consider a Manchester United side still employing a traditional 4-4-2, instead of trying to run games in a Madrid side with several other top-class attackers vying for possession.

Sneijder, like United's masterful Paul Scholes, can play in the center midfield or as a second striker, as the Englishman did partnering Ruud van Nistelrooy prior to Louis Saha's arrival at the club, a period during which United played arguably their best football in this decade.

Paul Scholes built his reputation on long-range thunderbolts and late runs into the box, knifing into the area to score cheeky headers or little volleys; Sneidjer is no different.

The Dutchman has a wide range of passing, able to play through forward or long diagonally, like Scholes, with both feet, in slight contrast with him; Scholes happens to favor his right foot for passing and shooting. The equally diminutive Sneijder has the same penchant to shoot from range and is quicker—having more pace—than the fading Scholesy.

However, injuries have inihibited the 25-year-old's climb into the footballing elite, despite an awesome Euro 2008 tournament where he scored the goal of the tournament against Italy and another cracker against France, running the Oranje midfield as Netherlands looked odds-on favorites to take the tournament.

With a healthy run of games, the diminutive Madrista would re-establish himself among the best in the world, but his current club seems an unlikely place for such a stretch. Real stripped him of the number 10 shirt and haven't named him in the squad for over a week.

However, Sneijder's heart still lies in Madrid, despite ubiquitous rumors of a Dutch exodus, and his intention to stay is well-documented withing sporting media.

If Madrid did force him out, perhaps they use their speed-dial to Manchester, where a United side with an uncharacteristically weak midfield could use his class, an unequivocal attacking force, where most of their midfielders now—Carrick, Anderson, Gibson, Giggs—neither attack nor defend enough to be labelled as either, or do both well enough to be described as effectively balanced.

If Sneidjer were to arrive, his ideal partner would be Hargreaves, still recovering—as ever—from multiple knee surgery, or the ever maturing Fletcher, who has finally grown into a Keane-like mold, holding down the fort with as much gusto as his slight frame allows. Anderson may be the defensive midfielder of the future, but not yet.

Sneidjer would become the first choice free-kick taker and would also provide someone to take United's left corner kicks, as opposed to Nani, whose poor passing ability finds him usually unable to clear the first and second defenders regularly. It wouldn't be a stretch to employ the Dutchman as their choice penalty taker either.

Regardless of such transfer hypotheticals, United's midfield needs bolstering, but the crotchety Alex Ferguson has made it clear he has no intention to buy again, statements he may have to double-back on as perennial fringe teams like Spurs and Man City boast a stronger starting midfield than United's across all four.

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