Madrid go Dutch
After much speculation from the pundits (myself included) that Real Madrid would sign Arjen Robben, the club took a sidestep in their pursuit of some Dutch flair. On Monday, the club unveiled Dutch duo Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe as their latest signings. Drenthe was acquired from Feyenoord for a reported fee of 14 million euros, while the 23-year-old midfield maestro Sneijder arrives from Ajax after Real agreed to pay 27 million euros. With the addition of the two Dutchmen, Real have signed six new players at a cost of in excess of 70 million euros since the club won the league title last season. Real are still interested in adding Arjen Robben if a suitable deal can be worked out with Chelsea.
There was some hard feelings between Ajax and Real during the negotiations for Sneijder, as Real tried to impose a a three-hour window in which Ajax were expected to accept their 24 million euro bid. Ajax, of course, were not going to be bullied and ended talks until Real apologized for their behaviour. Real apologized and returned to the negotiating table after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. They also upped their offer to 27 million euros which Ajax accepted.
Sneijder is a player that I rate very highly and I believe he compares favorably to creative midfielders such as Paul Scholes and Deco. Like those two, Sneijder is smaller in physical stature but is strong on the ball and his passing range and vision are excellent. I also like the fact that he is very much a two-footed player, which is surprisingly not as common as one would expect at the highest levels. In his time at Ajax, Sneijder scored 43 goals in 126 appearances as well as 6 goals in 35 appearances for the Netherlands. I’ve linked to a video that shows some of his finer moments and I look forward to him making an impact in La Liga this season.