Tactical Analysis: Manchester United do not need Wesley Sneijder

Manchester United seem to be continuously linked with Wesley Sneijder. The Dutch international looks to be keen on a move away from the San Siro and could be sold in January. There will be a number of clubs keen on his signature, but I’d be very surprised if United were one of them. Despite his high profile and proven track record, he simply would not fit into United’s style of play, nor is their space for such a player in their squad.

Sneijder’s role

Sneijder is very much a classic play-maker. Graced with tremendous technical ability he dictates the tempo for the side’s in which he plays for. Nowhere was this more evident than under Jose Mourinho at Inter, where he was sublime as the club won the league and the coveted European Champions League trophy. Since then however, his form has dropped somewhat and he has suffered a dent in his reputation. There are also question marks over his fitness, he has not played 30 games in a season for Inter yet, only playing plus 25 (26) appearances once. This is worrying considering the physical demands on then player will arguably be more intense in the Premier League. Further to this, a classic play-maker is not really what United require right now.

Despite an injury, it remains to be seen whether he is good enough for the Inter side anyway. His role as an AMC makes him quite tactically rigid as he lacks the pace to effectively play out wide, which is where he is often used for Inter now. For United he is clearly not good enough to play as one of the wingers, due to a lack of pace. He’d probably be most natural in the role behind RVP, which is currently occupied by Wayne Rooney.

Rooney can offer more than Sneijder, in terms of offensive and defensive work, making the Dutchman’s qualities a bit redundant. He also has a reputation as a luxury player, due to his tactical rigidity. Even if he was featured in United’s diamond formation he’d still surely favour playing at the peak of it, where Kagawa will play (when fit). Kagawa is a much more modern playmaker than Sneijder, due to his pace and mobility, something Sneijder lacks. The classic no. 10′s of old are not in vogue anymore, with players such as Silva, Kagawa and Mata being the new breed.

Sneijder wants to play as the no.10 or ‘trequarista’ which virtually no team uses anymore. Inter have seen this, as Sneijder is not mobile enough to shift the play wide, or run on the ball. Alavarez and Coutinho can both do this, far more effectively, thus meaning that Sneijder’s place in the team is not assured even if he returns. Similarly, Kagawa’s movement in this role makes him effective for United, the same is true of Rooney. A player like Sneijder would merely slow down United’s notoriously fast style of attacking play, especially on the counter attack.

Of course he could play deeper as one of the centre-midfielders, but this is not Sneijder’s preferred role. Sneijder has completed 0.6 tackles and 0.2 interceptions in his few appearances this season. Incredibly low. Cleverley and Carrick boast significantly better figures than this. Even Kagawa completes 1.5 tackles per game on average. This means one must question Sneijder’s desire to make a defensive contribution, it also begs the question could he fit into that United system? Probably not. Even when Kagawa plays in this advanced role we can see him willing to get back and help out the defence, Sneijder won’t do that.


Sneijder is stalling over contract talks with Inter, who want him to take a pay cut from his £200,000 salary. With United having put Sneijder’s countryman RVP on a similarly huge contract, it is unlikely that they’d break the bank for Sneijder as well. Especially considering how he is not certain to fit into their style of play. The fact is Inter do not want him, so why should United? Kagawa is a better, more modern model of the playmaker and when fit we will probably see the best of him. Sneijder is arguably out-dated, experiencing his prime in 2010 under Mourinho. Now he limits the sides in which he plays in due to his preference for the no.10 role. United cannot afford him such a luxury and would be better off investing in a more specialist centre-midfielder, when they have better options in the advanced midfield roles.

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