Will Sneijder cross Milan divide?

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Oliveier Morin/AFP/GettyImagesCould Wesley Sneijder, right, switch sides in the Milan Derby?

It is not unheard of in modern-day football, but transfer dealings between bitter city rivals are not commonplace. While supporters will forever harbour ill feeling toward the other, the club relationship between the two Milan giants are currently perhaps 'at ease'.

It would have seemed improbable for Inter to enter transfer negotiations earlier this summer, given the track record laid down by the likes of Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo. However, having benefited from the Pazzini-Cassano swap, the Nerazzurri showed they are still prepared to talk.

- Are Inter better without Sneijder?

Marginalised by the club and omitted from the first team until his contract issues are resolved, recent speculation suggests the Rossoneri may be coerced into contemplating a move for Wesley Sneijder. Despite the early dismissive statements, it is a deal La Gazzetta dello Sport has noted requires more than just a passing thought, simultaneously suggesting it could suit all parties concerned. Could the Dutchman cross the Milan divide?

"The club and coach are in agreement that until the player is in a clear state of mind, he will not play," said Inter technical director Marco Branca. The door remains open for Sneijder at Inter and should the Dutchman decide to agree to a pay cut, his ties with the club will continue.

However, while issues remain off the field, there are also those he faces on it. Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni has various options at his disposal, both tactically and in personnel, and it has become an ever-increasing problem as to where Sneijder fits into his plans, if at all.

Sneijder, 28, is clearly settled in Italy despite long-term interest from Manchester United, who presumably will also be following developments very closely. However, with his place in the Dutch national team at risk given his lack of playing time at club level, a move away from Appiano Gentile might be attractive to the former Real Madrid star.

With Inter able to use the funds from his sale to further reinforce their fresher looking squad, and Sneijder securing valuable playing time, what benefit would such a move have for Milan? Arguably reaching what many suggest are the peak years of a career, Sneijder could be instrumental in plugging the gap between the midfield and attack and bring some real creative quality to the final third.

However, some might argue Milan require more immediate improvement elsewhere in the squad, while Sneijder has had injury problems that might make even Alexandre Pato wince.

Admittedly, transfer fee and salary demands will no doubt prove problematic for the Rossoneri. Given their recent efforts to balance the books it would seem nonsensical to sell their two best players to save money only to spend lavishly just six months later. Adriano Galliani reinforced this point this week when stating the club would need to reduce its 30-32 man squad before delving into the market.

However,with Champions League qualification to the knock-out stages secured and Milan having history of plucking stars from moments of distress a la Ibrahimovic and Cassano, the possibility should not be ruled out entirely. Milan chief Silvio Berlusconi hinted that success will return to the club by building for the future, and that means signing players no older than 22 or 23 who will become the best in their respective positions. Could Sneijder be the exception in January or is this a nothing story?

If speculation leads to a Milan move for Sneijder, would the Dutchman be a welcome addition to the squad? Or should all this talk be confined to the realms of fantasy football?

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