Ever since the appointment of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, it has appeared that Bastian Schweinsteiger’s days at Old Trafford have been numbered.
Signed for £6.5 million in the summer of 2015, the German represented something of a marquee signing for the Red Devils. The club were back in the Champions League, Louis van Gaal had managed the former Bayern Munich player before and, despite heading towards the twilight of his career, Schweinsteiger was clearly still a very talented footballer. After all, it was only two years after he was voted the best player in Germany and one after he collected a World Cup winners medal.
But things didn’t really work out for Schweinsteiger. It was clear that injuries were catching up with him and his legs had started to give up. The energy that had made him a brilliant winger and central midfielder had gone, effectively turning him into a statue that managed just 18 Premier League games. He was a very good statue, and still possesses a brilliant range of passing and footballing brain, but his impact in the middle of midfield was becoming increasingly limited.
Mourinho alluded to these issues when asked about the German, saying “why would I want a player who can’t run.” Despite numerous attempts to sell him, though, the Portuguese manager still not only has Schweinsteiger on his books, but has also included him in his 25 man squad for the upcoming Premier League season.
But does this mean that there is a way back for Schweinsteiger at United? If you take comments made by Mourinho last week, the answer would still be a certain no.
Mourinho said that they have assessed their central midfield options and that United are happy with Pogba, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Fellaini and Carrick. As the world record signing, Pogba is not going to be shifted from the team if fit, and Mourinho is currently showing that he enjoys Marouane Fellaini’s combative style alongside him.
Even if Mourinho changes his mind, Schneiderlin, although slightly criticised for his debut season, actually showed signs that he will do a fine job in defensive midfield for United. Ander Herrera remains a thoroughly underrated option in midfield and Michael Carrick has marshalled the midfield at Old Trafford for around a decade. With Schweinsteiger so out of favour, it is hard to see him overtaking any of these names.
Then comes another comment made by Mourinho. He said he was happy with his 23 man squad. 23, not 25. This suggests that Mourinho already has a slimmer squad in his mind, and has merely included Schweinsteiger in his squad to fill up a quota. Again, these are not good signs for the German.
But crucially for him, he is closer to being in the fold than he has been all of pre-season. After being banished to play with the reserves, one could have naturally expected Schweinsteiger to be excluded from the squad all together. He has a chance, at the very least.
Mourinho still looks like he will not play Schweinsteiger at all this season, and the chances of seeing the German strut his stuff at Old Trafford do look very slim. But by being named in the Premier League squad, he may just have a glimmer of hope that he can resurrect his career.
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