Malaga are reportedly continuing their pursuit of former Real Madrid playmaker Wesley Sneijder, despite competition from Manchester United.
The club’s owner, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, is said to be interested in the 27-year-old for the high-profile signature he represents, and the potential on the pitch he offers to take the team forward in their fourth consecutive season back in the Primera Division.
This summer has so far seen seven new arrivals in Andalusia plus an eighth player’s loan turned permanent, but in relation to the owner’s wealth, they represent low-cost, sensible purchases to reinforce key areas of the pitch that were lacking last term, notably for a defence that shipped 68 goals, only worsened by bottom side Almeria.
Alongside making Martin Demichelis’ loan move permanent with a €3m fee, the defence has welcomed Hamburg’s experienced Joris Mathijsen (€1m), the returning-to-full fitness Sergio Sanchez, Espanyol’s former promising versatile centre-back signed from Sevilla (€2.8m) and Nacho Monreal, Osasuna’s consistent left-back of five years (€6m).
Midfield has seen Jeremy Toulalan (€10m) added for some defensive credentials to an otherwise attack-minded system Manuel Pellegrini successfully adopted towards the end of 2010-11, whilst that forward-thinking set-up has received some interesting fortification. Alongside Ruud van Nistelrooy’s (free) return to La Liga is the impressive double-signing from Valencia of winger Joaquin (€4.2m) – stolen from under the noses of Atletico Madrid – and promising young striker Isco (€6m), with a one-in-two strike-rate for Los Che’s B team.
Including the money to confirm Demichelis’ stay, the combined outlay on the squad so far is €33m, one that if the chase for Wesley Sneijder materialises though, is set to double. The southern Spanish side are in reported competition with Manchester United for the Dutch No 10, who is thought to be considering his options in spite of current club Inter’s moves to keep him at San Siro.
Malaga are negotiating at a higher price-point than Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, offering €30m for the player, and a €5m wage that represents a €1m pay-rise. The former Ajax man’s situation remarkably mirrors that which he experienced in his first spell in spain, where after a positive and influential first year at Real, numerous Coach changes, and character clashes with those subsequent Coaches, hit Sneijder’s form on the field.
Should the player choose to move to La Rosaleda, it would reunite him with Pellegrini. The two briefly worked together during the 2009-10 pre-season at Real Madrid, one that the Chilean Coach spent trying to convince club management to keep hold of Sneijder, and one that the club would eventually sell to Italy for €20m.
Sneijder is cryptically quoted in the Italian edition of Vanity
Crucially, Sneijder meets with Inter’s sporting director Marco Branca today to discuss his future amid reports he may not figure in new Coach Gian Piero Gaserini’s plans to introduce a wing-attack-focused 3-4-3 system to the Nerazzurri. Where Malaga’s offer could increase to €40m, reports suggest Manchester United’s willingness to bring Luis Nani into transfer talks could hold an edge.