Schweinsteiger adds new dimension to Van Gaal’s burgeoning squad

July 11, 2015 Tags: , Reads 14 comments
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Three transfers concluded, how many more to come this summer? Manchester United’s confirmation that Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is to join from Bayern Munich adds to a growing sense of momentum at Old Trafford. The player may be creeping towards his 30s, but Schweinsteiger is legitimately one of the world’s finest central midfielders – and his capture no less than a significant coup for Louis van Gaal. The acquisition is one more piece in what could be a very profitable summer for the club.

Indeed, if any doubts remain about Schweinsteiger’s suitability for United, then apprehension should be quelled by Jamie Carragher’s assertion that the 30-year-old is now “past his best.” There is nothing quite like the stench of Scouse desperation to validate United’s trajectory, even if the former Liverpool defender later claimed his comment was made in jest.

Schweinsteiger, who joins on a three-year deal worth more than £140,000-per-week, will add vast experience and big-game nous to Van Gaal’s team. And while the midfielder’s injury record is patchy since Pep Guardiola join the Bavarians in 2013, Schweinsteiger has played more than 70 games for club and country over the past two season. United’s latest acquisition is a short-term move, perhaps, but one for a player who should ensure Van Gaal’s midfield is competitive with almost any on the continent.

While the predictable partisan debate raged in social media in England, over in the Motherland the player’s colleagues were quick to praise the man who will lead his nation at Euro 2016. After making more than 500 appearances for the club, Bayern was seemingly willing to let the player dictate his own future.

“Bastian wants to do something new at the end of his career,” said Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “He asked that we meet his wishes. My colleagues at Manchester United have been in touch. We’ve reached an agreement over a transfer. It’s regrettable because Bastian meant a great deal to the club. He achieved great things.”

Meanwhile, Germany manager Joachim Löw, described United’s new acquisition as “an absolute leader and world class player who can put his stamp on any team.”

Schweinsteiger will be the first German to play for United’s first team when he makes his Old Trafford debut in August and will add genuine leadership and tactical nous to a team that has lacked both in recent campaigns. It is for good reason that Schweinsteiger was described as “the brain” of the national side by as Löw as Germany won the World Cup in Brazil last summer.

Indeed, the player was outstanding in the final against Argentina, moving former United midfielder Paul Scholes to label Schweinsteiger the outstanding contributor in the calendar year 2014.

“If I was to pick my standout it would have to be, in a World Cup year, a World Cup winner,” said Scholes last December. “If I had to pick my player of the year it would be Schweinsteiger.”

The World Cup proved to be the pinnacle of a career that began in Bayern’s youth team before a rapid ascent to Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad. Hitzfeld granted the player a first team debut at the age of 18 in 2002. Schweinsteiger made early appearances for Der FCB in defence and on the wing before switching to central midfield where his range of effective passing found a good marriage with a high-energy game.

More than 20 club honours later and Schweinsteiger will add much to Van Gaal’s search for balance at United. Over the past year the Dutchman has weighed a career-long natural attacking tendency with what Van Gaal believes are serious weaknesses in his squad. If Schweinsteiger adds anything it may be to eradicated Van Gaal’s incessant tinkering, particularly with the shape of his side.

Van Gaal’s team is likely to be more settled in the coming months not least because the Dutchman is keen to address the club’s defensive weaknesses first; the Reds also having confirmed the addition of defender Matteo Darmian to the squad. Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin is still likely to join, with a top-class central defender also on the cards.

Beyond the initial intrigue Schweinsteiger’s impending arrival also poses questions. First, of how the player will to fit into United’s shape, and then of whom will make way for the German. While a more defensive-minded central midfield role might suit a player who will turn 31 in August, Van Gaal is also likely to be wary about rapidly losing Michael Carrick’s influence in the United side. Only a cursory glance at the data is required to understand Carrick’s value to United: the Reds picked up more than 2.3 points-per-game in the Premier League last season with the Geordie in the team, against just 1.5 without.
Manchester United 2015/16
With Ander Herrera’s energy, quick-tempo passing and goals impressing towards the end of last season, it might well be Marouane Fellaini who is most at risk from the German’s arrival. Van Gaal’s desire to field, if not two defensive players in midfield then at least one and an all-rounder, points to a trio in the centre of the park comprising Carrick, Schweinsteiger and Herrera when Tottenham Hotspur visits Old Trafford on 8 August.

This requirement for balance, together with Carrick’s age and Schweinsteiger’s injury-record last season, means that a deal for Schneiderlin remains likely despite the German’s capture.

In fact additional defensive resources probably hold to key to unlocking United’s attacking freedom, with Van Gaal keen to resurrect a 4-3-3 shape that was commonly used towards the back-end of last season. Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Adnan Januzaj and new signing Memphis Depay offer Van Gaal abundant attacking options even if the Dutchman is currently light senior on strikers.

That challenge may well be resolved in the market, while United remains on the hunt for an experienced central defender and – probably – a goalkeeper to replace David de Gea. Either way, Van Gaal’s squad is rapidly nearing completion (above, right).

For the moment, however, the focus remains on Schweinsteiger – a player who could well provide the kind of high-quality if short-term spark that Robin van Persie once offered. The Dutch striker leaves United this summer having proven dubious value for a £24 million fee, but an outstanding capture nonetheless.

The smart money is on Schweinsteiger following a similar pattern.

Schweinsteiger’s honours:

World Cup (Germany) – 2014
Club World Cup – 2013
Champions League – 2013
Bundesliga – 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015
DFB Cup – 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014
DFB League Cup – 2004, 2007
DFL Supercup – 2010, 2012
German Player of the Year – 2013


steven milliken - July 11, 2015 Reply

this seems to say he isn’t enough???

Jamie O'Donoghue - July 11, 2015 Reply

“There is nothing quite like the stench of Scouse desperation to validate United’s trajectory.” <<< That’s hilarious.

Alex - July 11, 2015 Reply

I’m loving all this happenings in manutd . It’s a good sign of what is to come in the new season. Though it will be tough but it will also be very sweat

azrin mohd azidin - July 12, 2015 Reply

I would still want to have otamendi and schneiderlin in.. with them i think we would be more solid at the back..

SKW - July 12, 2015 Reply

Not a bad signing, but nothing to howl at the moon about either.

He won’t be what does or does not win us the title, and his age and health are problematic.

We need a top drawer striker and a mid-20s attacking mid. This isn’t either.

David Levine - July 12, 2015 Reply

You’re joking, right ?

Schweini is EXACTLY what’s required – a tough, skilled, aggressive player with great skill and immense experience. Apparently, he’s a “leader”, too.

So what if there’s no re-sale value – for UTD, the future-is-now.

LvG has turned around a sinking ship in his first year with a very patched-together side; this year, it’s clear that he will put his stamp on the team and the personnel. No doubt, the first ten matches won’t be as “easy” as last year’s schedule but, as we saw last year, the players will be on-the-same-page and that’s not something that could be said about last year’s group which got something like 13 points from the first ten matches, losing point to the likes of Southampton and Swansea and Leicester.

For me, there are two “elephants-in-the-room”: Di Maria and DDG. Right now, it’s impossible to tell if either/both/none of them will be in the red shirt when the season kicks off in five weeks’ time. I’m agnostic about TheAngel but the situation with DDG is fascinating since it seems that Saint Iker has left the Bernabeu (for retirement in Porto) which means that either a deal is in place or else we ain’t seen nothing yet, in regards to the hard-ball game that UTD are playing out. Time will tell but in the meanwhile it makes for fascinating gossip.

Stevie D - July 13, 2015 Reply

He may be getting on in years, but we’ve been lacking leadership on the pitch in recent times. He’s exactly the kind of leader we need.

Ngozi Daniel - July 12, 2015 Reply

One word: Lacazette

……… That is all.

Irid Rian Dunn - July 12, 2015 Reply

Good write up and even better read! #GGMU

Anmol Bajaj - July 12, 2015 Reply

great piece as always. Just hope Schweinsteiger can stay fit. Didn’t play a lot last season (15 league games I think)

Martin Bury - July 12, 2015 Reply

2words…… Absolute Quality!

Julian - July 12, 2015 Reply

All fine but I’d be much happier if Schneiderlin was already signed or at least about to be. Schweinsteiger alone will not solve the long standing midfield issues. Like Carrick he’s starting to succumb to injuries and is unlikely to play a full season. Perhaps LvG intends rotating them! Nevertheless, I just hope that Schneiderlin will not prove to be a big opportunity missed.

Lucas - July 13, 2015 Reply

“There is nothing quite like the stench of Scouse desperation to validate United’s trajectory”
>>This is the best and most hilarious line I have read in recent times, good one Ed 🙂

Basti will add the much needed steel, drive, determination and leadership in midfield we have lacked over the years. No doubt, he is a short-term fix, but looks like we will also add Schneiderlin (according to latest reports, he has had his United medical) as a long-term Carrick replacement. For the first time in years, our midfield looks healthy. When was the last time we said that – 2008?

One notable point is LvG has added tall players. 3 out of our 4 new players are 5’11 or taller, and adept at heading. No more shall we have to undergo the torturous sight of a Rafael-sized player marking a Drogba-type player at corners.

The squad pic you have shown seems about right – except that Januzaj will probably be sent away on loan, and Di Maria might be sold (would love to do a swap with Muller, but that’s just too far-fetched). However, the squad looks more healthy than in recent years. Two more additions – one CB and one ST, will complete the squad. My money is on Otamendi at CB. ST will be anyone’s guess.


Julian - July 13, 2015 Reply

Excellent news about Schneiderlin. Now for a CB and a striker!

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