ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
After much fanfare, footballer Wesley Sneijder arrived in Istanbul yesterday, a day after agreeing to terms with Galatasaray.
The Dutchman was welcomed by hundreds of Galatasaray
fans at the airport terminal in the city.
“The fans were amazing. [The reception is] something to be really proud of,” Sneijder told the club’s official television channel, GS TV. “You can only see it here.”
The possible transfer of Sneijder had been the dominating talk in the Turkish football scene over the past two weeks and the Dutchman’s arrival in Istanbul reflected the build-up to the transfer.
Yesterday, GS TV aired every minute of Sneijder’s arrival to the club’s training facilities in Florya, where he met the team’s coach, Fatih Terim.
“He is a very important player and has a great CV. There is not much need to talk about him, actually, the whole world knows about him,” the coach said. “I am happy to have him on my squad and I hope he will enjoy the interest and love shown to him. I hope he adapts to the squad soon.”
Terim announced that Sneijder will start training with the club today, the same day that the 28-year-old will sign an official contract at Türk Telekom Arena, finalizing his move from Inter Milan to Galatasaray.
On Jan. 20, Galatasaray
announced that Sneijder agreed to its offer to make him the highest-paid player in Turkish football history.
Sneijder will receive a yearly 4.3 million euro salary and 25.000 euros per appearance.
On Jan. 20, Sneijder made his first speech to Galatasaray
fans, expressing his excitement.
“I am so excited. I cannot wait for my first game with Galatasaray,” the Dutchman told the club’s official television channel. “I know how much Turkish people love football and I know how dedicated and passionate Galatasaray
fans are. I can have a guess how they will welcome me.”
Yesterday, before his departure from Italy, the superstar bid farewell to Inter fans as well.
“Bye Milan, thanks for everything. Forever in my heart! Thanks to all the fans,” he wrote on his personal Twitter account before saying “On my way to Istanbul now... excited!”
Hoping to boost its squad ahead of next month’s Champions League round-of-16 tie against Germany’s Schalke 04, the Turkish champion attempted to lure Sneijder with a lucrative salary, after agreeing with Inter on a 7.5 million-euro fee.
Sneijder had fallen out of favor at the Italian giants since the departure of coach Jose Mourinho and has participated in just five matches this season under coach Andrea Stramaccioni. Despite a disappointing campaign, the Dutchman remains one of the highest-profile midfielders in the game today and may be a game-changer for Galatasaray.
Sneijder was a member of the treble-winning squad of Inter in 2010, which was voted the FIFA team of the year that season. He was arguably the most important player on the team, which has won the Italian League, Italian Cup and the Champions League titles. In the summer of 2010, Sneijder was also instrumental in the Netherlands’ run-up to the World Cup final, where the Oranje eventually lost to Spain 1-0 in overtime.
Defending champion Galatasaray
still leads the Spor Toto Super League with 33 points, but suffered a recent 2-1 defeat to Kasımpaşa on Dec. 18, when the second part of the season started.