Istanbul (AFP) – Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder left Turkey on Saturday after four years with Galatasaray, expressing sadness that club manager Igor Tudor had not wanted him to stay.
The Istanbul club said on Friday that it was “parting with Wesley Sneijder” and wished him success in the future.
The news of his departure however sparked angry protests overnight in front of club headquarters, with fans calling for the resignation of club chairman Dursun Ozbek.
Sneijder, 33, joined Galatasaray from Inter Milan whilst in his prime back in January 2013 and scored 46 goals in 175 appearances for the club.
Filmed leaving for Amsterdam from Istanbul airport, Sneijder said he was disappointed he had not figured in the plans of the Croatian manager Tudor.
“Of course I feel sad. Because if you have to leave like that it’s not very nice,” he told beIN Sports.
“The coach made his choices. And he made his choice not to work with me. And I have to respect that.”
There was no immediate indication where Sneijder would go next, although there have been suggestions he could play in the United States.
Sneijder said he had no new club yet but “there will always be something new”, adding: “I trust my qualities.”
With the club failing to mount a successful Super Lig challenge and going through a succession of managers in the last two seasons, the midfielder had long been rumoured to be unsettled.
Galatasaray said Sneijder’s contract had been terminated by mutual agreement and the player had waived this year’s salary of 4.5 million euros ($5.2 million).
It added that the club would receive 20 million euros in compensation if Sneijder were to sign for one of its Turkish rivals within the next three years.
The Dutchman became a favourite in the Turkish Super Lig, scoring spectacular goals that will long live in Galatasaray folklore.
Galatasaray is seeking to regroup after finishing fourth in the Super Lig last season, well behind champions and Istanbul rivals Besiktas.
For the new season, the club has signed French international striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Moroccan international midfielder Younes Belhanda.
But Tudor still has to convince fans he is the man for the job.
Galatasaray’s season started in the worst possible way with the side losing 2-0 to lowly Swedish outfit Ostersund in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round.