Villa boss confirms interest in Sneijder
MARTIN O'Neill has expressed an interest in bringing the Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder to Aston Villa. (The Guardian)The future of the 25-year-old at Real Madrid has been the subject of speculation this week.
MARTIN O'Neill has expressed an interest in bringing the Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder to Aston Villa. (The Guardian)
The future of the 25-year-old at Real Madrid has been the subject of speculation this week.
Following Real's splurge in the transfer market this summer it was believed he would be surplus to requirements at the Bernab�u.
The player's agent, Soren Lerby, then claimed that the La Liga club wanted to keep Sneijder, but it had also been reported that Internazionale might take him on loan for 4m Euros (�3.4m), with an option to but him outright for 18m Euros (�15.4m).
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That interest, however, seems to have cooled and the ensuing uncertainty about Sneijder's next move seems to have caught O'Neill's eye.
“I think that the more creativity you have in your side the better chance you will have,” the Villa manager said. “These are particularly special players who are not [generally] available. If there were players like Sneijder, who have great talent and might be surplus to requirements at a club that is buying [new players], then I think you should be interested, even if that interest is not reciprocated. Because how else are you going to try and improve your team?”
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O'Neill has more pressing and pragmatic objectives. He believes that the loss of Martin Laursen was the principal reason for Villa's decline last season, following a strong start.
The centre-back has since been forced to retire and following the sale of Zat Knight to Bolton Wanderers, O'Neill's only experienced candidates for the heart of his defence are Curtis Davies and Carlos Cu�llar.
O'Neill is hopeful of making signings soon and is rumoured to be interested in the Newcastle United full-back Habib Beye. The purchase of Portsmouth's Sylvain Distin also seems possible.
It is not only the defence that concerns the manager, however. Although he took the opportunity to buy Stewart Downing from Middlesbrough as soon as he could, the midfielder's ankle injury will prevent him from playing until the end of the year. At the same time, Villa will have to rejig their midfield following the sale of Gareth Barry to Manchester City.
Fabian Delph, the 19-year-old whom Villa signed from Leeds United for an initial �6m this week, spoke of settling down and becoming stronger, but O'Neill hopes that he will establish himself quickly. The manager confirmed that Delph will play in Saturday's friendly against Fiorentina.
He is, however, concerned by the more disruptive sort of friendlies and regards England's match in Amsterdam next Wednesday as “pointless”.
He is also peeved by a World Cup schedule that has placed qualifiers on that night, close to the opening of the Premier League. “In a week where we will be trying to prepare for the start of the season, we will not see a lot of our players until Friday morning before the Wigan game,” he said.