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With the Dutchman currently embroiled in a contractual stand-off with the Nerazzurri, Saturday's clash between the clubs could be the perfect audition for a certain Brazilian

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By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer

As each December day passes and January lurks ever closer on the horizon, Wesley Sneijder’s future appears increasingly likely to be spent away from Inter. But while the Dutchman’s contract stand-off with the Nerazzurri continues, the Pinetina outfit could do worse than look across the pitch on Saturday night as they begin to ramp up their search for a replacement.

Anderson Hernanes’ form since arriving at Lazio in the summer of 2010 has been nothing short of spectacular, with the Biancocelesti having twice reached the precipice of Champions League qualification and added another impressive start so far this season. That may not seem like much, but when you consider that the capital club had finished in the top five only once in the previous nine years – and that in the Calciopoli-blighted 2006-07 campaign – then the 27-year-old’s impact gains greater context.

HERNANES v SNEIJDER | STATS SINCE 2010

82 LEAGUE GAMES 50
25 LEAGUE GOALS
9
10 LEAGUE ASSISTS 12
     
20 CUP GAMES 25
5 CUP GOALS 5
4 CUP ASSISTS 6
     
102 TOTAL GAMES
75
30 TOTAL GOALS 14
14 TOTAL ASSISTS
18

Much of the side’s success has been largely down to Hernanes, with Miroslav Klose having also taken up some of the slack since his 2011 signing from Bayern Munich. The former Sao Paulo man’s ability to both score and create goals from the centre of midfield has been a key feature for a club otherwise built on solid but unspectacular foundations. With superb control, two-footedness, excellent passing ability and positional intelligence, he has so often sparked Lazio goals in otherwise stale encounters.

In so many ways the Brazilian appears to be the perfect addition for a Nerazzurri outfit who have failed to find a suitable spot in their line-up for Sneijder since the days of Jose Mourinho. The Brazilian is more suited to a role alongside obdurate midfielders in a central three than Sneijder, who doesn’t fit in Andrea Stramaccioni’s current make-up thanks to the form of Antonio Cassano, Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio. Hernanes would be much more at home beginning attacks from a deeper platform than the Dutchman.

One question mark that would come up over such a move relates to cost. Whereas Sneijder’s value has dropped markedly thanks to Inter’s refusal to sell their star to Manchester United for €35 million (£28m), Hernanes’ price tag has only been increasing. Lazio president Claudio Lotito is hoping to tie the midfielder down to a new contract until 2018 which would include a €60m (£49m) rescission clause. While that may be one of the keys to Hernanes and his agent refusing to be rushed into a new deal, his value has risen significantly since arriving from Sao Paulo for €13.5m (£11m) in 2010.

But if Inter are to gamble on anyone, then why not a player who has already proven to have an ability to get things moving from the centre of midfield in a leading Serie A side? If the numbers can be worked out, then they could do a lot worse than plump for Hernanes as they look to climb back to the top of Italian football once more.

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