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Onion Bag: As European Season Kicks Off, Transfer Issues Linger.

Wesley Sneijder is a tiny man, with a huge contract. His fortunate affliction, however, may be the roadblock that scuttles his move to Manchester United. The Red Devils, looking for a Wesley Sneijder-type distributing midfielder, agreed to a $49 million fee with Inter Milan for the man himself. The hangup reportedly has been his salary demands. Sneijder does not want a pay cut from $300,000 per week, which is more than Wayne Rooney earns with his new mega-deal.

Negotiations seem at an impasse and Inter plan to play him in Saturday’s Italian Super Cup match. It looks as though he’s staying in Italy. Consummative failure would be disastrous for Man U fans, forced to sit through another disappointing season being the best in England but not quite good enough to beat Barcelona.

Sergio Aguero has emerged from Atletico Madrid’s doldrums and will be hoping for smooth sailing. Manchester City spent $64 million on him as a replacement for Carlos Tevez. He could end up being a far superior version of him. “Kun” was once billed in the same breath as his famous Argentine compatriot. While Messi, buoyed by stellar teammates has become the world’s best player, Aguero, thwarted by his, has merely been consistently awesome. The budding star will receive more support from his Manchester teammates, though he’ll also be under far more pressure.

Manchester City ended the trophy drought with the FA Cup last year, found the elite, game-altering talent they have been building to attract in Aguero and qualified for this season’s Champions League. On paper, this is city’s year to propel themselves on the international stage, but the team still feels muddled.

City have the depth to weather any storm with two quality players at every position, but to challenge for a title they need 11 who can form a coherent, focused team. It’s unclear they are there yet. Conservative defensive tactics held them steady last season, but they remained reliant on sporadic moments of brilliance from Tevez. If Aguero does not deliver immediately, this team could left behind in a crowded six-team title race.

Arsenal claim to be an emblem of fiscal health and there’s nothing to discuss about that housing project, supposed to pay for the stadium, that tanked during the housing crisis. The confident claims don’t match the club’s actions. The promised active summer, besides Gervinho, has yet to materialize. The club appears to be waiting to settle Cesc Fabregas’ potential $65 million transfer to Barcelona, a deal that looks set to go to the deadline, before making further moves. The stalling does not make sense, unless they need the money.

The Gunners have likely missed out on Spain Winger Juan Mata. The 23-year-old’s $35 million release clause, which would have shattered Arsenal’s transfer record, expired on Sunday. Valencia, who don’t want to sell, can now force Arsenal to go even further out of their price range. Rumored moves to shore up the defense, such as Everton’s Phil Jagielka and Blackburn’s Christopher Samba, also remain in flux.

With Arsenal facing a grave risk of missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 14 years, now does not seem the time for dithering. Though, neither were the last six years and dither they did.

Joey Barton is available, for free. The Premier League’s perpetual bad boy, disillusioned by the club’s management selling Andy Caroll and Kevin Nolan and declining to extend his contract, lashed out at management on twitter. The club promptly put him in the store window, isolated him from training with the rest of the club and rushed out an announcement to preempt his twitter feed.

Barton has a troubled past and outstanding legal issues. He has an annoying habit of being brutally honest, but, for teams at all points on the Premier League spectrum, he could be an intriguing prospect. He is experienced, he is a gifted short and long range passer and he can be fielded at any midfield position and plays with a fortitude and a definite edge. Based purely on ability, he would be starting for England. Barton could scare away nearly every club and struggle to catch on with a relegation candidate. He could be lifting trophies with Manchester United.

[Photo via Getty]

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