The great St Mary’s fire sale continues, with news breaking this afternoon that Morgan Schneiderlin has handed in a formal transfer request at Southampton.
The news follows a renegade Twitter tirade yesterday evening, the sought-after midfielder tweeting “6 years of an amazing journey with #SaintsFC DESTROYED in 1 hour,” following a meeting with Executive Director Les Reed and CEO Gareth Rodgers where Schneiderlin was told he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the south-coast outfit, despite well-documented interest from Arsenal and Spurs.
Breaking reports suggest the Frenchman refused to take part in today’s training session at Staplewood.
The social media outburst, and indeed, the entire Schneiderlin situation, raises an interesting point – does the France international have a right to feel aggrieved, or should he be accepting the decision of his employers and the terms of his contract?
Well, you can certainly understand it from the France international’s point of view, even if his methods come with a dose of childish unprofessionalism. He’s already witnessed Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers – a quintet that collectively amassed 152 Premier League starts for the Saints last season – walk out of St. Mary’s this summer with the club seemingly putting up little resistance whilst generating £76million in pure transfer profit. Allegations of asset stripping against inherited owner Katharina Liebherr have ensued.
The club have reinvested some of the funds, £20million to be precise, in new signings Duscan Tadic and Graziano Pelle, both sourced from the Eredivisie, whilst the club claim plans to make three more acquisitions by the end of the week, with Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar, Celtic ‘keeper Fraser Forster, Argentina defender Marcos Rojo and Norwich pair Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond all rumoured targets.
But none of these signings match the ambition Southampton were showing prior to the resignation of former Chairman Nicola Cortese in January, whose plans to make the Saints a consistent top half Premier League club were well known – perhaps symbolised best by his overseeing of the club’s record-breaking €17million deal for former Roma star Dani Osvaldo. His departure, combined with the sudden exodus this summer, suggests the current Southampton board don’t take that mission quite as seriously.
Likewise, Schneiderlin’s performances over the last two campaigns have been as vital as any of his team-mates in aiding Southampton’s rapid progression up the league table. Due to his individual style and role in the side, the France international’s influence is often understated, but the stats speak for themselves and remarkably, Schneiderlin has made the most tackles, 259, and the most interceptions, 207, of any Premier League player since the Saints’ top flight ascension two years ago.
That impeccable form has seen the 24 year-old muscle his way into the France senior fold, whom he represented against Ecuador at the World Cup, and emerge on the radars of Arsenal and Tottenham – the former in desperate need of a holding midfielder and the latter now managed by former St. Mary’s boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Considering how Southampton stars of arguably lesser intrinsic contributions have already been allowed to leave the club this summer, Schneiderlin must feel justified in his actions. Furthermore, the Frenchman has been with the Saints since their League One days, remaining at the heartbeat of midfield for the last six campaigns and a vital, ever-present factor in their successive promotions. This is not, as often in the modern climate, simply another case of another player using a club as a platform to quickly advance his career and salary.
That being said, make no mistake that Schneiderlin is relying upon a culture of player power to get his way. He has perhaps been more earnest than Luis Suarez, more grateful than Stoke City’s Steven N’Zonzi, yet, like both, the France international is refusing to fulfil the terms of a contract he signed less than 18 months ago, which extended his St. Mary’s stay until 2017. Furthermore, in only April this year, the midfielder informed Mirror Football; “As long as we don’t receive a concrete offer, and as long as the club says they won’t sell, I will never force a transfer.”
Southampton are yet to receive a concrete offer and the club have also stated that they won’t sell, yet Schneiderlin, despite insisting otherwise just four months ago, is indeed now attempting to force a transfer.
Words carry little weight in the beautiful game but legal contracts should. Perhaps Schneiderlin feels that Southampton are no longer matching his ambition, and admittedly, the 24 year-old is clearly capable of plying his trade at European level.
However, he owes the Saints as much as they owe him – acquiring Schneiderlin for £1.2million after just five appearances for Strasbourg first team, whilst they were still in League One, was an enormous risk at the time. And upon agreeing new terms in 2013, he consented to his fate at the club being determined by the employers.
Does Schneiderlin have a right to feel aggrieved? Of course he does. Feeling aggrieved, however, does not entitle you to a transfer.