So the Bayern Munich legend has finally left the club and been reunited with Louis van Gaal at Manchester United. Many thought this day would never arrive when the symbol of the Bavarian club would opt to play elsewhere, but the seemingly unthinkable has come to pass.
Having joined the club as a 14-year-old, Schweini has followed other club legends Xavi, Steven Gerrard and Iker Casillas in moving from the club that identifies so much with them – and vice versa – for new pastures in the twilight of their careers.
There are many opinions on both sides of the argument as to whether leaving Bayern was the correct move for the 30-year-old (to be 31 on August 1st). Only time will tell, but let’s look at some of the pros and cons to the move.
Age and injuries
Schweinsteiger will be 31 on August 1st and his current contract at with Bayern Munich was up at the end of next season, so cashing in on him now makes financial sense. Moreover, he was one of the top wage earners at Bayern, and the money saved can be redistributed elsewhere. Also last season, in particular, saw the midfielder increasingly injured. For example, his post-World Cup season didn’t start until November and an ankle injury kept him out of key parts of the season after that. With younger and fitter midfielders available, the loss of Schweinsteiger can be offset.
The midfield is one area where trainer Pep Guardiola is not short of options. There are 16 players who will be vying for what is likely to be just six places in the Spaniard coach’s line-up for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
In the holding role, the Bavarians have hungry youngsters like Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (back from loan FC Augsburg), Joshua Kimmich (new transfer from RB Leipzig), Sebastian Rode, and even Gianluca Gaudino, as well as the more experienced Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, and of course, Thiago Alcantara, who can all play in the midfield.
I think it is safe to say that if Pep Guardiola 100% really wanted to keep Schweinsteiger, the powers that be could have persuaded the player to shun the lucrative offer from the Premier League giants. However, Guardiola has stressed that it was Schweinsteiger’s decision to leave, but doth he protest too much? Guardiola explained: “We talked prior to the season and I said: ‘You decide, Basti’.”
Tactically, Bayern under Guardiola do press and defend high up the pitch, meaning the deep-lying “quarterback” role is increasingly redundant within this tactical schema. Indeed, it became clear last season that Schweinsteiger was no longer a key element in Guardiola’s plan.
Losing a legend
It just will not be same next season at the club without Schweinsteiger around. He has been a key figure since his debut back in 2002, and was more than just a player to the club and community. Along with Lahm, Schweinsteiger was the heart and soul of Bayern and very much a link between the adoring fans and the team itself. Like Gerrard at Liverpool or Casillas at Real Madrid, Schweini was “Mr. Bayern Munich” and seeing him playing for someone else will hurt Bayern supporters and the club on an emotional level.
Granted, Guardiola is well stocked with midfielders, but the young names already outlined are promising not the finished article like Schweinsteiger, whose list of honours at Bayern (8 Bundesliga titles, 7 DFB Pokals, the Champions League as well as the FIFA Club World Cup and a World Cup with Germany) is glittering to say the very least.
Experience and know-how counts for a lot at the top level and Bayern are losing someone with bags of both. The club will replace Schweinsteiger, but it might not be as seamless as a transition as some might hope.
Premier League Challenge
Franz Beckenbauer, for example, has cast doubt upon whether Schweinsteiger’s move to Manchester United is the right one for the player. Speaking to Passauer Neuen Presse, he said: “I find it very brave to make a move like this at his age.
“People know Schweinsteiger at Bayern and know what he can do. That’s not the case in England. He will have to prove himself all over again. Not a lot of players have succeeded in doing so.”
Indeed, Schweinsteiger won’t be guaranteed a place in the United midfield – just like at Bayern – and if he struggles with injuries, like last season, he’ll find it difficult to settle and find his feet. Despite the World Cup win being just 12 months ago, the question remains: Is Schweinsteiger in his prime or entering the twilight of his fantastic career?
What do you think? Share your pro/con analysis in a comment below.
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