Wesley Sneijder (€27 million) (16/20)

There are a long list of candidates for Ajax’s greatest number 10 of all time. Dennis Bergkamp and Jari Litmanen are two deserved mentions, but another player worthy of such praise is Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder is one of those players that I feel has absolutely everything, especially technically to excel in that position. Incredible vision, often followed by immaculate pass execution, for one. If anyone remembers his “banana” pass against San Marino for the Netherlands then you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

When Sneijder isn’t passing, he’s roaming the pitch in search of the ball, looking to dictate creativity and lose his markers. I haven’t even mentioned his goalscoring prowess yet. And free kicks, his incredible ambidexterity…I can go on. Wherever Sneijder has gone, he’s scored goals, many of which feature on highlight reels due to their spectacularity.

It was at Ajax, though, where Sneijder emerged as a world-class talent. Rising through the ranks of the famed De Toekomst like so many, Sneijder established himself in the Ajax first team in 2003 in an injury-ravaged squad that left Ronald Koeman little choice but to select him. The next year he won the Johan Cruijff Prijs for his performances as Ajax won the Eredivisie, with Sneijder scoring 9 goals and racking up 11 assists. Not bad for a teenager, eh?

From then on, Sneijder went on to have 3 very successful seasons in Amsterdam, going from strength to strength as a playmaker. It was in his final season that he really hit stride though, netting a remarkable 18 times in the Eredivisie and accumulating 9 assists as well, excellent stats for a centre forward let alone a number 10. This convinced Real Madrid to swoop in the summer of 2007, securing Sneijder’s signature for a fee of €27m that made him the second most expensive Dutch footballer of all time behind Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Sneijder started his time in Spain on fire, scoring the winner against Atlético on his debut and then scoring 2 in the following week’s game against Villarreal, one of which was a trademark free-kick. In 30 games for Los Blancos, he scored 9 and assisted 7, and was a main fixture in the side that won the La Liga title that year. His second season was less remarkable, and was significantly disrupted by an ACL tear in the summer of 2008, and Real saw it fit in 2009 to sell him on to Inter Milan for a cut price of around €15m.

At Inter, Sneijder had arguably his most successful time as a pro, winning everything from the Champions League to Serie A and the FIFA Club World Cup. On the field he was pretty great, earning the nickname “The Sniper” for his accurate passing and impressive goal-scoring ability that would underline his performances in a Milan shirt. Sneijder’s ability to perform in big games was perhaps noted most at Inter Milan, especially in the Champions League where Sneijder scored in the semi final of the Champions League in 2010 and then went on to assist in the final. You don’t get shortlisted for the Ballon D’Or by not turning up in big games, right?

A contract dispute saw Sneijder move on to Galatasaray in 2013, where he continued to excel, notably scoring 17 goals from midfield in his second season. The next season saw him lead Galatasaray’s charge for a league title, notably scoring 3 goals against Fenerbahce in 2 games. In the home fixture he scored in the 88th and 90th minutes to secure victory for Galatasaray in one of his greatest performances of all. The stuff of legend, really. Galatasaray did indeed win the league that year, and by the time he left for OGC Nice this summer, he had won 2 Süper Lig titles, 3 Turkish Cups and 3 Turkish Super Cubs with the Istanbul-based side.

Sneijder is, without question, one of the greatest players to ever play for Ajax, and one of the greatest playmakers to ever grace the game, in my opinion. Although he lacks defensive qualities and work rate at times, his attacking abilities are immense. At his best, there are few on the planet that can match him.