By Wayne Veysey
Wesley Sneijder wants a move to the Premier League in the summer, with Chelsea and Manchester City closely monitoring the playmaker's situation after he rejected a switch to Zenit St Petersburg, Goal.com has learned.
The Inter playmaker held talks with Zenit in the final days of the Russian transfer window, which closed on February 24.
Sources have told Goal.com that the Russian club made Sneijder a “staggering” offer to make an immediate switch to St Petersburg and he has also been courted by Anzhi Makhachkala, but the Dutchman is holding out for a move to one of the big hitters in England.
The 27-year-old came close to joining Manchester United last summer after Inter agreed a fee with the Premier League champions but the deal fell through because the player’s camp wanted around €240,000-a-week (£200,000) and United were reluctant to pay any more than €200,000-a-week (£170,000).
With United’s main priority in the forthcoming window believed to be a central midfielder, and Tottenham’s Luka Modric top of their shopping list, the only other clubs who would realistically be able to afford Sneijder’s salary and transfer fee are Manchester City and Chelsea.
The Premier League’s two biggest spenders have had their wings clipped by Uefa’s new financial fair play rules but still possess the financial muscle to buy a player of Sneijder’s calibre.
City made enquiries with Inter last summer and again in January but pursued other avenues after considering whether Carlos Tevez could be used as leverage in a part-exchange deal for the Dutchman.
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Nevertheless, City are ready to make David Silva the fourth player at the club, after Tevez, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, to earn more than €240,000-a-week (£200,000) during forthcoming contract talks and could afford Sneijder if they off-loaded some of the dead wood at the Etihad Stadium.
"Sneijder wants to play in England," a source told Goal.com. "He wanted to move to Manchester United last summer but that didn't happen because of the money and various other reasons.
"He likes the Premier League, he likes the atmosphere in the stadiums and believes his game would be ideally suited to English football."
Sneijder’s season has been disrupted by niggling injuries and indifferent form to the extent that he has fallen down the pecking order at San Siro in recent weeks, even being dropped from the team by coach Claudio Ranieri in order to play two strikers.
Speaking at the end of last month, Sneijder, who is contracted to Inter until 2015, confirmed that he had rejected an approach from Zenit. “They [Zenit] were prepared to go really far in order to sign me,” he said.
“There was absolutely nothing wrong with their offer. However, I don't think this is the right moment for me to leave Inter.”