Schweinsteiger brings leadership & class to Man United’s midfield

bastian-schweinsteiger

There comes a time in an athlete’s career when their importance wanes for a team due to age or a change of philosophy. Some decide to remain with the club and others move on to look for new challenges where they will be deemed important players again. Bastian Schweinsteiger chose the latter as he’s agreed to sign with Manchester United.

“My colleagues at Manchester United have been in touch. We’ve reached an agreement over a transfer. Bastian wants to do something new at the end of his career. He asked that we meet his wishes. I regret that he wants to leave because Bastian is one of the best-performing players that we have. He has done great things with the club, I can only wish the best for him. The national team can only benefit from this, I’m convinced he’ll play well at Old Trafford,” said Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a press conference on Saturday.

Schweini, as his fans and teammates affectionately call him, joined Bayern Munich in 1998 and made his debut with the senior team four years later. Due to his tactical intelligence and versatility, Bastian played everywhere from left-back to right winger. But he became a world-class player when Louis Van Gaal became Die Roten’s manager in 2009 and made Schweinsteiger a mainstay in the middle of the pitch.

SEE MORE — Check out the Premier League TV schedule for viewers in the USA.

“He did not fit in the position of left-winger for me,” said Van Gaal. “When I arrive at a new club, I talk with every player about his position, his personality, the team and how he works with his team-mates. I told Bastian: ‘I think you have to play in the midfield.’ At that time, we played with two holding midfielders and a no. 10, which was [Thomas] Müller. Then he played in a holding role and found he liked the game more than ever. Now he’s playing at no. 6 with [Pep] Guardiola [as manager]. There are not many players who have a wide orientation. When you have a wide orientation then you can fit in the profile of a no. 6 or no. 10. But then you have to train. Schweinsteiger never played there, so after two weeks of training sessions and two matches, he felt he could do more than ever.”

During his time playing with the Bavarians, the 2003-04 Regionalliga Süd winner has won everything there is to accomplish in Germany. Eight Bundesliga trophies, seven DFB-Pokal Cups and two DFB-Supercups. The year 2013 was the best year of his career as he scored a career-high seven league goals while his side won the treble. They also added the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. For Schweini’s influence on an historical team, he was awarded the Footballer of the Year in Germany over his teammates Franck Ribery and Müller who finished second and third respectively.

After Die Mannschaft won the World Cup last year, Bastian’s role for the Bavarians changed as Guardiola signed Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid. His presence along with injuries limited Schweinsteiger’s impact on the team but he still scored five goals and provided eight assists in all competitions. Recently, it was reported that Pep wants to have a youth movement in the midfield. Teenagers Gianluca Gaudino and Pierre Højbjerg along with Sebastian Rode, who enjoyed a nice debut season at Bayern last year, are supposed to see an increase in playing time. The Spanish trio of Alonso, Javi Martinez and Thiago still remain. And Pep enjoys playing Philipp Lahm and David Alaba in the midfield occasionally so Schweini became surplus to requirements.

SEE MORESee the preliminary Bundesliga TV schedule for US viewers.

Van Gaal jumped at the opportunity to be reunited with Bastian and he will seek the game time he’s looking for with the Red Devils. While he may be turning 31 soon, Schweinsteiger is still a great player when healthy. According to WhoScored.com, only Lahm has played more accurate passes in the last six Bundesliga seasons. Also his work rate is excellent as only Barcelona’s Dani Alves and Juventus’ Arturo Vidal have had tackles in their opponents half during the last three seasons in the Champions League according to Squawka.com.

He’s an immediate upgrade over Michael Carrick, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera.

Also he’ll bring leadership and tenacity that is desperately needed as Manchester United returns to the UEFA Champions League.

 

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