Istanbul giants Galatasaray said that Dutch international midfielder Wesley Sneijder was leaving the club by mutual agreement after over four seasons that saw him become a big favourite with fans.
“Our club is parting with Wesley Sneijder,” Galatasaray said in a statement late on Friday. “We sincerely wish Wesley Sneijder all the best in his future career.”
The news of his departure sparked angry protests overnight in front of club headquarters in the Florya district of Istanbul, with fans calling for the resignation of club chairman Dursun Ozbek, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Sneijder, 33, joined Galatasaray in January 2013, scoring 46 goals in 175 appearances for the team.
However, with the team in the last two years failing to mount a successful Super Lig challenge and going through a succession of managers, the midfielder had long been rumoured to be unsettled.
Galatasaray said Sneijder’s contract had been terminated by mutual agreement and he had waived his salary of 4.5 million euros ($5.2 million) he had been due to be paid this year.
It added that the club would receive 20 million euros in compensation were Sneijder to sign for one of its Turkish rivals within the next three years.
There was no immediate indication where Sneijder would go next, although there have been suggestions he could play in the United States.
“I had some amazing years in Istanbul. I really love this club, the city and the fans. Thank you all for everything,” Sneijder wrote on Twitter.
The Dutchman had over the last seasons become a favourite in the Turkish Super Lig, scoring spectacular goals that will long live in Galatasaray folklore.
Galatasaray is seeking to regroup after finishing fourth in the Super Lig last season, well behind champions and Istanbul rivals Besiktas.
For the new season, the club has signed French international striker Bafetimbi Gomis and Moroccan international midfielder Younes Belhanda.
But manager Igor Tudor still has to convince fans he is the man for the job.
Galatasaray’s season started in the worst possible way with the side losing 2-0 to lowly Swedish outfit Ostersund in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round.