THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MILAN, Italy — Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti denies the club is blackmailing Wesley Sneijder into signing a new contract, saying the Netherlands midfielder is not playing purely for footballing reasons.
Club director Marco Branca said over the weekend that Sneijder wouldn’t play again for Inter until he made a decision about his future, and a new deal which requires him to take a pay cut.
"As far as the club is concerned, we are completely open with the player. There is no kind of blackmail," Moratti told Italian media in New York. "If a contract is valid, it’s certainly valid to ask a person if it can be improved in some way. That doesn’t change the fact that for the time being he’s not playing for technical reasons.
"Obviously no one would want to throw away someone of his value, in who the club has invested so much. Also it would be counterproductive to pay the wages of a player and then not allow him to play. I believe he is physically and mentally able to play. It depends only on the coach’s choices."
Sneijder, who has two years remaining on his current deal, is the highest earner at the club with a salary of about C6 million ($7.8 million) annually.
The 28-year-old Dutchman, who last played for Inter in September, has long been linked with a move to the Premier League. Manchester United came close to signing the playmaker in the 2011 off-season.
On Wednesday, the global footballers’ union called for talks with FIFA, UEFA and the European Union about clubs using "blackmail behaviour" to force players into signing new contracts.
Moratti is in New York for a presentation of the Inter Campus youth football project at the United Nations.
The Inter president was also asked if Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli could return to Inter in January.
"I really don’t think that Balotelli will come back to Inter," he said.