Although he was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, it appears that Wesley Sneijder is going to sign for Galatasaray for a figure believed to be around £8.3m. I thought I’d take a look at whether or not the Reds have missed out by not bringing him on board; the stats at least suggest that in many ways they haven’t…
My initial concern with the Dutchman is simply that he hasn’t played much football in recent times, and so would surely take a fair while to get up to speed.
He has only started, on average, twenty-one league games per season for the last five full campaigns, and has played just 2,039 league minutes in the last eighteen months.
To give that figure of 2,039 minutes some context, Steven Gerrard passed that tally for this season alone against Norwich on Saturday, and several other Reds are close to that mark for 2012/13 too.
Assuming the players listed here play the full match then in the next one (Suarez), two (Agger, Johnson and Skrtel), and four (Allen and Sterling) league games Liverpool will likely have a total of seven players who will pass the 2,039 minutes mark for this season alone, with 11 games still to play. It’s only natural to assume that Sneijder would, at best, take a few games to get up to speed in the Premier League in view of the lack of football he has recently played.
His statistics from 2011/12 also suggest he may not be what Liverpool are looking for right now too.
In Serie A, his passing has been 86.4% in his five appearances this season; hardly disastrous, but then nine Liverpool players have been better that in this campaign. Sneijder has also been dispossessed twice per game on average, and only Suárez and Sterling top that for the Reds this season, so you have to wonder if the Dutchman would adhere to the ball retention ethos so beloved by Brendan Rodgers.
Of course, with a player of his quality it’s not all bad, and his ability to set up chances is still there. Sneijder has averaged 2.8 key passes per game, which only Suárez can better for Liverpool this season, and he has also rattled in a very healthy 4.2 shots per game too.
However, of greater concern is his defensive contribution (or lack thereof). He has only made 0.6 tackles per game (with Jamie Carragher the only outfield player in the current Liverpool squad to have made fewer this season) and just 0.2 interceptions per game, which is fewer than every single player bar the goalkeepers who have started for the Reds this season.
Considering that Liverpool remain fairly open in midfield at present, whilst managing to create 92% as many chances (and 99% as many clear-cut opportunities) as Manchester City did on their way to the title last season, I’m not convinced that Liverpool need a chance creating passenger who will not make a difference defensively which is where the team’s main issues currently lie.
This is also all before you get to the financial side of the deal, which (whilst acknowledging these figures are plucked from the sky) could set Liverpool back a total of £25m in transfer fee and wages if he signed on a three-and-a-half year deal at £100k a week, which seems a reasonable guess to illustrate my point.
Wes may be one of the best players Europe has seen in the last decade or so, and perhaps I’m writing this to convince myself that Liverpool haven’t missed out here, but in view of the above I’m not too disappointed that he has set sail for Turkey.