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Dec 31, 2011

Ranieri: Sneijder is our prize jewel

Claudio Ranieri has called on Wesley Sneijder to become Inter Milan's leader, as fresh speculation links the Dutch international with a move to Manchester United.

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Sneijder's season has been curtailed with injury and he has only played in seven Serie A games for the 2010 Champions League winners.

But Ranieri has implored the 27-year-old to lead the club to great things when he returns from his spell on the sidelines and has ignored rumours the English champions are preparing a new bid.

"Sneijder is our prize jewel," the ex-Juventus boss told Mediaset.

"He has to give 120 per cent. He mustn't just be part of the squad; he has to be our leader, the one who takes us by the hand and shows us the way to great things."

Ranieri has hauled the Nerazzurri to fifth in the league after they endured a dismal start to the season under Gian Piero Gasperini, who was sacked in September, and the former Roma coach thinks his work ethic has impressed Inter's fans.

"If you ask me why the Inter fans have taken to me so quickly, all I can think of is that they must like my attitude to hard work - I've got my head down and focused on sorting Inter out," he added.

"I have a strong character, I say what I think and with age my defects have worsened. I joined Inter at a difficult time when the team were up to their necks but I also saw determination and a sense of belonging.

"It annoyed me when I heard people saying these players were old and wise, and I remained calm even when we lost because I could see how they worked."

Inter face Parma when the Serie A season resumes on January 7 and they have been drawn to face French side Marseille in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

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