114 caps for Germany, a World Cup winner, eight Bundesliga titles, seven DFB-Pokal titles, a UEFA Champions League medal, a FIFA Club World Cup win and two DFB-Ligapokals.
This is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who joined Manchester United from Bayern Munich last summer on a three-year contract for a fee of €9m (£6.5m). His debut was embarrassing, his general play uninteresting and within a few months the German midfielder was punished with a three-match retrospective ban by The Football Association for striking West Ham United’s Winston Reid in the throat in their meeting two days earlier.
In his first season with Man United, you have to ask the question – what has Schweinsteiger done for the team? From first glance, much of what he has achieved can be written on the back of a postage stamp, but he has been unfortunate with injury and is currently sidelined having suffered a partial tear to a medial ligament in his right knee while on international duty. This injury has ended his season and will mean that Schweinsteiger will also likely miss the EUROs in France.
Schweinsteiger has been a topic of conversation due to his injury record and also his failure to make much of an impact since moving to Old Trafford last summer.
However, Sami Khedira has defended his international team-mate: “Bastian Schweinsteiger is still our captain. Everyone who writes him off makes a big mistake.”
Schweinsteiger largely operates in the centre of midfield, but he is versatile enough to provide an option on the wing, either left or right and he is, or was, regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world. Schweinsteiger possesses a fearsome shot from range as well as a wicked delivery from set-pieces and his boundless energy served him well. He is also a superb reader of the game and has scored spectacularly due to his good positioning. He has been called ‘the brain’ of the German national team by his coach Joachim Low.
However, his club boss. Louis van Gaal has criticised his midfielder. The 31-year-old has struggled for fitness and form since joining from Bayern Munich in the summer, where he played under LVG, but the Manchester United manager has previously said he does not recognise the midfielder from his younger self.
Discussing Schweinsteiger’s fortunes at Old Trafford, Oliver Bierhoff told Bild: “Every player needs the backing of the coach, the same goes for Bastian. Generally, I find it unfortunate if a coach publicly criticises a player so hard.”
Even his former boss voiced concerns over his injury record, just as he was signing for the Old Trafford club. “When he does not have injury problems, I am completely convinced he will do very well at Manchester United. He is a top, top player,” said Pep Guardiola.
“Unfortunately, during the last three years he was never in good condition. He is going to play really well there (at United). I really hope that is going to happen.”
It hasn’t really and that’s a shame for a player of his calibre and ability. The Premier League deserves players like Schweinsteiger, but in all reality, he just hasn’t performed.
And Guardiola knew it and that is why Bayern were willing to offload one of their most illustrious players of the past decade for a lowly fee.
You could suggest that both the player and the club are a fallen great trading on past reputations and that wouldn’t be too harsh.
In the 3-2 Champions League defeat by Wolfsburg in December that ended United’s involvement in the competition, Paul Scholes, in particular, was damning about the absence of leadership from Schweinsteiger at a time when there were numerous young heads in need of a steadying hand. Michael Carrick, at least, provides that assurance and, even at 34, remains – worryingly – United’s most accomplished midfielder, despite the sands of time starting to catch up with him.
Too often Manchester United fans have seen Schweinsteiger receiving the ball off his centre-half and then passing it backwards or sideways, despite having acres of time and space in which to turn and push forward with no opponent near him.
Manchester United appear lost when it comes to buying players. The days have long since gone when the very best pulled on the famous red shirt, now it’s almost like they have to make do, as their Premier League rivals sign the players that United used to.
When you spend £6.5m on Schweinsteiger, but had already spent £20m+ on Marouane Fellaini, something’s not right and now United fans need to understand the fact that Schweinsteiger’s best days are now behind him.