It is exceptionally hard to swim against the heavy currents of the euphoria surrounding the capture of Bayern’s stalwart midfield ace Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schweini, as he is fondly known as, has a seemingly bulletproof portfolio. The German ace has won the World Cup in 2014, Champions League in 2013, and several championships with the Bavarian side Bayern Munich FC, which has its hands firmly around the throat of the Bundesliga, much like how Real Madrid and Barcelona duopolize La Liga.
Is the capture of Bastian Schweinsteiger by Manchester United overly romanticized in the media?
The German has won everything there is, playing for Bayern as a youth since 1998. Schweini’s body of work is there for everyone to see, a complete midfielder with the strength, directness, and power to act as a lance as he impales opposing teams down their spines. Bastian is a modern day central midfield dynamo, with velvet skills and a ferocious motor.
Beyond the swagger United has just shown by seducing Bastian Schweinsteiger to the Theater of Dreams, one must detach from the giddy feelings of this coup to ask some tough questions. Is this a signing of the heart or mind? If we just take a quick break from romanticizing this surprising trinket Ed Woodward and Luis van Gaal have unearthed this transfer season, reasonable questions line up, clandestine as they may be.
Schweinsteiger tweets about Manchester United as a 'last' dream in his career as he goes for his medical.
Have United gone for another glamour signing here? Last season the faithful were in ecstasy over the loan signing of Falcao, one of the games most clinical predators. Time has now revealed that euphoria was misplaced, as United ended up getting only the shell of the original packaging, a flame that was already flickering out.
Falcao once a budding star, cut down by a serious knee injury, could not step back up to the top podium. United released him, opting not to take up the option to acquire the Colombian’s services for another season. Now Falcao is Mourinho’s pet project at Chelsea. Under the glint and glimmer of the Falcao loan from Monaco, was the reality that United forked out massive wages to loan a dimming star with injury problems.
Radamel Falcao was very much acclaimed and romantacized by Old Tafford upon his loan signing last season.
It is hard at this juncture, but we must ask the same of Schweinsteiger. Pep Guardiola limited his appearances for Bayern last season, and even before that Schweini had not managed 30 league games in the last 4 seasons. The German International has proven to be injury prone, and he is not at the apex of his powers, as he is 30 now and will be 31 in August before the season kicks off. The speed and unforgiving grit of the English Premier league tests the best of them, ask Angel di Maria. Bastian is no lightweight, but there has to be a question mark on how much power is left in his motor.
Woodward has got a reasonable fee for the German, but it is reported that Schweinsteiger will command a substantial pay rise, in excess of £140,000 per week. That represents a step back in the new transfer philosophy of the club. Van Gaal has just released three players on hefty wages, Falcao, Robin van Persie and Nani – both to Turkish side Fenerbahçe S.K. These marquee players had shown to be injury prone, along with declining performances and appearances in the first team. LVG basically blew up the existing over bloated wage structure, and began to re-baseline with emerging talents such has the Dutch wonder kid Memphis Depay, and the Italian defender from Torino - Matteo Darmian.
Matteo Darmain completes his move from Torino to Manchester United. Van Gaal sits next to him at Aon Complex.
So the question is why would Woodward tie that much wage real estate on a player who might be is on his twilight march – a last hoorah? A 3-year deal would put Schweini at 33 years old before this is all done and dusted. It is a gamble to expect him to slot in easily into the EPL, players normally take an entire season to get their bearings, and get used to the speed and culture of the league. Schweini could be 32 years old before he starts to really affect the kind of change expected from him at his position that has been a problem area for United for some seasons now.
What about the other midfielders at the club, who will he displace? Fellaini is not in the same mould, but he is a younger emerging talent who is on fire for Belgium and put in some defining performances United last season, so does LVG shelve that progress? Herrera has shown he is both mercurial and strong on the ball, his exclusion from the team for large parts of last season is arguably a contributing factor in United not finishing higher up. Does LVG hook the player again from his first team plans? And when you introduce the fact that United are still keen on Morgan Schneiderlin, the sure-tackling keg of gunpowder from Southampton, the methodology here becomes even murkier.
Bastian Schweinsteiger in German colors. Courtesy Alexander Hassenstein, Getty Images.
Schweinsteiger brings with him the pedigree and experience at the highest stage, of this there little doubt. However United have men that have won things as well, the captain Wayne Rooney, and Michael Carrick whose ‘No. 6’ position as a right-footed center midfielder LVG earmarked late last season has a weakness in his squad – hence the Schweinsteiger deal. Whether he has the legs to match his cerebral influence on the team, with actually physically influencing things on the field is to be seen.
The red devil faithful will definitely hope that Schweinsteiger scales these questions, and put minds at ease as United once again foray into Europe with an eye to reclaim the EPL trophy accosted by Mourinho’s Chelsea. As he undergoes his medical at United’s Aon complex, we welcome the Bavarian warrior to fulfill his 'final' dream at the theater that has made so many dreams possible.