Dutch maestro and ex-Ajacied Wesley Sneijder recently parted ways with Turkish giants Galatasaray after his contract was terminated. Despite strong links with a move to Sampdoria in Italy, the MLS and his hometown of Utrecht, there was always going to be talk of his career coming full circle with a return to his footballing birthplace, Ajax.
Although speculation, a return home for Sneijder is bound to split opinion amongst Ajax fans. Would he fit in with our group of young, up-and-coming, energetic footballers despite his flawless technique? Will he still have the engine required to run and press teams in beautiful Cruiyffian fashion the way Peter Bosz got the team playing last season and Marcel Keizer is currently trying to replicate?
Throughout this piece I will weigh up the pros and cons of a return to Ajax for the Netherlands most capped player of all time.
I will begin with the obvious, his wages. Despite being willing to take a pay cut it is believed Sneijder’s demands are around the €4 million mark, far beyond what any current Ajax star is being paid. Not only is this not a financially viable option for the club, but it could also create tension throughout the squad. Other first team players making equal contributions could be left feeling alienated as Sneijder’s mammoth wages would dwarf those of the rest of the first team squad.
Although we know just how talented a player Sneijder is – the most assists and chances created in the Turkish Süper Lig last year says he’s still got it – his arrival would potentially bring a halt to the progression of exciting youngsters such as Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong, who are both chomping at the bit to make the Davy Klaassen shaped hole in midfield their own. We would be better off giving this position to a player with a point to prove rather than a player who’s won it all and winding their career down. Ajax is a school of hungry and exciting prospects, not a retirement home.
Wesley Sneijder in the Turkish Süper Lig last season:
Most chances created (76)
Most assists (15)
Forever a No.10.? pic.twitter.com/4afove0nF2
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 14, 2017
Another factor to consider is his declining athleticism. At the age of 33 it is fair to say he is no longer in peak physical condition. The style of football returned to Ajax by Peter Bosz and, hopefully, continued by Marcel Keizer is heavily reliant on willing runners and fast paced pressing, something that simply is no longer part of Sneijder’s footballing arsenal. You could argue he would fit into a deeper role like Schöne, but at five foot seven and possessing little to no defensive ability I don’t see it being a good fit whatsoever. (Perhaps this is my inner Scotsman coming out here).
Despite the aforementioned negative aspects of the possible return of The Sniper to his original battleground there are, without doubt, hugely positive ones.
Firstly, our current first team squad has almost no Champions League experience in the slightest. An absolute necessity in my opinion for success in Europe. A player who has been there and done it before is required, someone the players can look to when things get tough, someone to inspire them, a man amongst the boys. (Albeit extremely talented boys!)
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) 6 mei 2017
Klaassen was the go to guy throughout our glorious Europa League campaign last year. He was my man of the match and the one who pulled us through when things got messy in Lyon, with his brilliant leadership qualities and experience. I am certain Sneijder would take that role over with ease. He has countless titles to his name in multiple countries including a Champions League medal under José Mourinho, the tactical genius, the man who outsmarted us and the man who broke our hearts on that proud day back in May. Wes learned how to win from the very best.
In addition, although his wage demands are large, there would be no transfer fee and we would be getting back a player who knows what Ajax is all about and what it takes to play for this glorious club which is an invaluable asset. Sneijder’s return as a player could also lead to a future role as a coach at the club alongside other Ajax greats such as Bergkamp, aiding them in continuing the clubs well-renowned history of developing young, technically gifted players in both the youth academy and the first team. This is exactly what Ajax is all about and a great reason to bring him back to Amsterdam.
To conclude I feel as if the cons, especially the massive wages, outweigh the pros. Although he is undoubtedly still a great player, role model and leader I wouldn’t want to upset the current young and enthusiastic core of the squad which brought us so much success last year or stifle the progress of any youth prospects as they are the future of the club, and Sneijder is the past.
I would, however, love to see him return to the club at some point, just not as a player. His experience and pedigree will always be welcome here as he is, and will be forever, a very special Ajacied.
— AjaxDaily (@ajaxdailydotcom) 23 februari 2016