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TURKEY > Sneijder signs Galatasaray contract, says he is ready for derby

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Sneijder, once one of the world's most outstanding players, received a rapturous welcome in Istanbul on Monday as he arrived to tie up his move to Galatasaray after surprising pundits by choosing Turkey rather than a higher profile league. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Sneijder, once one of the world's most outstanding players, received a rapturous welcome in Istanbul on Monday as he arrived to tie up his move to Galatasaray after surprising pundits by choosing Turkey rather than a higher profile league. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Dutch footballer Wesley Sneijder signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Galatasaray today, claiming “he is 100 percent ready” to play in this weekend’s Turkish derby.

A day after arriving in Istanbul to a rapturous welcome at the Yeşilköy Aviation Terminal, Sneijder officially signed the lucrative deal with the Turkish champion.

“I am very happy to be here, it’s a big club,” the Dutchman said. “It’s an honor for me to be here.”

The 28-year-old midfielder, who has been dominating the headlines for two weeks, has said he was very happy with the reception he received.

“It was amazing. Thousands of fans waiting [to greet] me is something to be proud of,” he said. “I already have amazing feelings so I can’t wait for my first game.”

The former Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter ace participated in his first training session yesterday and said he has a good first impression of the team.

“I met my teammates and the coach today. They are all very kind and once again I’m very happy to be here,” Sneijder said.

The Dutchman will be the highest paid player in Turkish football history with a 4.3 million euro yearly salary in addition to 25.000 euros per game.

Despite his stature among the continent’s top midfielders, he has fallen out of favor at Inter Milan and has played only five games with the Italian club this season.

However, Sneijder denied claims he was lacking match fitness and said he is ready to face Beşiktaş in a Spor Toto Super League derby on Jan.. 27.

“I know there is a big game on Sunday,” he said. “I feel good, I trained a lot after my last injury and I am 100 percent fit.”

Galatasaray fans have already started comparing Sneijder to club legend Gheorghe Hagi, who has led the club to unprecedented achievements, including four league titles in a row and European glory, including the UEFA Cup and the Super Cup.

Sneijder has said he is happy with the comparison.

“Of course it gives me motivation,” he said. “I know he is a legend for Galatasaray, and I want to become a legend here.”

January/22/2013

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