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Just how good is Arsenal and Man Utd target Morgan Schneiderlin?

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It’s easy to forget just how far Southampton have come in recent years; the Saints’ unlikely Champions League bid may have been unsuccessful, but the seventh place finish was the sixth consecutive season that the club had improved their league position.

Just six years ago, Southampton finished 23rd in the Championship and the club entered administration. Had the Liebherr family not have bought the Saints for around £15m, the club could have ceased to exist altogether.

One of the two survivors of that squad is goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, who after the Liebherr takeover decided to cancel his move to then-Premier League side West Ham, and made his 300th appearance for the Saints in the 2-0 loss to Manchester City last weekend, receiving a heroes reception from the 3,000 away fans at the Etihad.

The other survivor did not play in the final game of Southampton’s memorable 14/15 season, and many Saints fans reluctantly accept that he probably won’t play a part in the 15/16 season either. Morgan Schneiderlin had already said goodbye the week before after the final home game of the season, in the lap of honour after the 6-1 drubbing of Aston Villa.

Schneiderlin has been injured since the 2-2 draw against Tottenham, ironically coming against one of his most favoured managers in Mauricio Pochettino, and has likely played his last game on the South Coast. The next time he wears red and white, it will be more than likely the red and white of Spurs’ biggest rivals, Arsenal. Meanwhile, reports suggest Manchester United are interested.

Schneiderlin, who has made over 200 league appearances for Southampton, is reportedly wanted by both Manchester United and Arsenal.

The 25 year old is one of the more under-appreciated midfielders in the league, his reputation often coming from fans who just see his name linked to them in the papers, not from actual understanding of what he does. Some may say he’s just a box-to-box midfielder, because of the high number of tackles and interceptions he makes, but to call him a mere ball-winner would be drastically underestimating him.

Schneiderlin can play that role, but what sets him apart is how well rounded his game is. Physically very strong but also deceptively quick (as the video of his tackle on Danny Welbeck on Youtube will testify), the French international also has an impressive passing range, and provides a Gallic flair alongside the more robust Victor Wanyama. Under Pochettino he’d push forward more, but under Ronald Koeman he has become the conductor of the Southampton midfield, often just sitting in front of centre backs Toby Alderweireld and Jose Fonte.

It has been some journey for the Frenchman. Arriving from Strasbourg in summer 2008 as a skinny young 18 year old, he was thrown into the hustle and bustle of the Championship; like so many of the younger faces in that Saints team, he wasn’t ready to play so many games, and his rumoured £1m transfer fee, paid by a club struggling to pay the bills, meant he had more than his fair share of critics.

It would have been easy for Schneiderlin to give up and go back to France, like Romain Gasmi who also joined from Strasbourg that summer, but he didn’t want to. The club received offers for him, but the Frenchman wanted to prove himself and pay back the Saints. Schneiderlin’s new chairman, Nicola Cortese, made sure he knew he was to stay too, as the Italian banker ripped the transfer offers up in front of him.

It was tough in the Football League for the Frenchman, though. Still only 20, the four seasons he spent in League One and the Championship were a steep learning curve. He went from someone, by his own admission, who struggled to finish games to the player now who regularly tops the distance covered tables.

Perhaps his biggest adaptation was in his style of play. Casual watchers of Schneiderlin will know he’s a very good tackler, yet this is someone who was deemed by his former manager, Alan Pardew, as a player who couldn’t tackle. From a playmaker that struggled to impose himself on games, now he dictates the tempo and drives the team forward.

Schneiderlin has emerged as a domineering figure at the heart of the Saints midfield.

That has come from Schneiderlin’s own hard work; in the lower leagues, he struggled a bit with injury and suspension. He wasn’t the most important player in the team that won consecutive promotions, but it would have been very difficult to steal the limelight from Adam Lallana or Rickie Lambert.

Having wanted to leave last summer, even tweeting his displeasure of his ‘six years of an amazing journey being destroyed in one hour’, Schneiderlin was understandably frustrated at not being allowed to move, feeling promises had been broken.

But with a new agreement with the club’s hierarchy, after the previous arrangement was made with the departed Cortese, Schneiderlin was allowed to leave a season later. Considering the struggles of his ex-teammates, it was to his benefit.

And after keeping up his side of the bargain, it is now very likely that the midfielder will be finally be allowed his wish to join a team in the Champions League. Arsenal and Manchester United are the obvious favourites, considering his desire to continue in the Premier League, but a move to Juventus or PSG may not be totally out of the question, especially if they agree to the £25m asking price.

It will bring an end to the stay of perhaps one of Southampton’s finest players of the modern era. Considering the transformation that Schneiderlin has gone under in his seven years at Saints, it almost feels like the fans will be saying goodbye to one of their own. He may not have come from the muddy pitches of Hampshire, but the intense pride Southampton fans will have felt when he made his World Cup debut for France in the Maracana will have been priceless.

Merci beaucoup, Morgan, et bonne chance, wherever you may be.

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Arsenal

It is too soon for Mikel Arteta to be considered for Arsenal job

The 36-year-old has been linked with the Emirates hot seat.

Jake Jackman

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Mikel Arteta
Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have a huge summer awaiting them as they will need to appoint a successor to Arsene Wenger and rebuild a squad that has missed out on Champions League football for the second season in a row.

It won’t be an easy task and the board must act swiftly to make sure the club are prepared for the 2018/19 campaign.

Considering Wenger’s departure was announced weeks ago, Arsenal should have made progress in their search for a replacement.

There will be a number of names under consideration and it is important that they do their due diligence to ensure they can start to move in the right direction again.

BBC Sport report that Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta is one of the options being considered by the hierarchy at the Emirates Stadium.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

As a former player, he would be well received by the fanbase, but it would represent a huge gamble by the club.

The 36-year-old was part of the playing staff under Arsene Wenger as recently as 2016.

Although he will know the problems that exist at the club, he may struggle to exert the authority to correct them considering many of the current squad were his peers.

It has only been two years since the Spaniard retired from playing and he wouldn’t have expected to be in the running for a job of this size this soon.

Upon retiring, he took up a coaching role at Manchester City and the experience will stand him in good stead to move into management one day.

After all, he is working with one of the best managers of all-time in Pep Guardiola and Arteta will have played a role in the team’s record-breaking Premier League season.

That coupled with his history with Arsenal makes him an attractive left-field option for the Gunners.

However, the size of the risk attached to an appointment means that the club should look elsewhere this summer.

The club will want stability, but first and foremost, they will want success.

The fact that Arteta has no managerial experience means that he would be learning on the job and the North London side can’t afford to allow that.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Arsenal are a huge club and as the man following Arsene Wenger, the next manager will be scrutinised closely.

It would be a job better suited to a manager with experience and know-how at the top level.

The article goes on to mention both Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri. Either of them would be a better appointment for Arsenal at this time, as they have both managed big clubs previously.

For Arteta, the fact that he is being linked to a job like Arsenal shows how highly he is thought of within the game.

If he wants to go into management, he needs to leave Manchester City and gain experience as a number one.

If he does that, whether it be in England or abroad, he could be ready to take the hot-seat at the Emirates Stadium at a later date.

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Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – Hoffenheim move, Julian Nagelsmann and facing Liverpool

The Norwegian international discussed his time at Hoffenheim and his experience of English clubs.

Mathew Coull

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

This summer West Ham United utility man Havard Nordtveit called time on his career with the Hammers, after just one season.

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer he suffered from the London outfits’ own struggles, the change of stadium and being asked to play out of position at right-back.

After just 21 games for the Hammers, he headed back to Germany, where he had such success previously.

Now, speaking exclusively to The Boot Room, the Norwegian international has discussed working under an exciting new manager, facing Liverpool in the Champions League and coming through the ranks at Arsenal.

Plenty of teams in Germany would have wanted Nordtveit this summer.

He built a fine reputation in the Bundesliga during his time with Gladbach.

In fact, just hours before his July transfer was announced, he was being linked with Bundesliga rivals Hamburg.

In the end, it was Hoffenheim who snapped up the Norwegian. They had just finished fourth in the Bundesliga and it was a brilliant move for the 27-year-old.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

But, as the former Hammer explained from Germany, it has been a topsy-turvy season:

“It went well in the first couple of months. But then my games weren’t as good as I was hoping for,” he admitted. “Then obviously I was not good enough for the team. I have been training hard and lately, it has been back to normal again.

“It’s good to be back in Germany and also I needed half a season to get to know the new coach and the new system. I am looking forward to the rest of the campaign.”

Nordtveit started the season playing in the Hoffenheim back three, but found himself out of the squad entirely from mid-December until last month.

Despite his problems, he did not sulk and simply worked hard to get back into the first-team:

“I am not that person,” proclaimed the Norwegian international. “I have been in that situation before with West Ham and Gladbach. It’s all about giving everything you can instead of moaning.

“You have to be positive,” he continued. “This is a team sport. You have to give your best for the team. If that means you are playing or not you know that you will get the chance in the end.”

This season Hoffenheim and Nordtveit were challenging for the Europa League.

However, at the start of the campaign, the Bundesliga outfit were in Champions League action for the first time in their history.

They took on Premier League side Liverpool in the qualifying rounds, with Nordtveit playing in both games.

Liverpool were not yet working under Mohamed Salah power but still proved far too strong for their German opponents over two legs:

“We knew they were strong. With their attacking forwards they are brutal. We had a very good home game. But in the end, it is a little better a feeling to know we went out of the play-offs against a team that reached the finals,” Nordtveit explained, with a sense of vindication for his club’s exit.

“What Klopp has done with the club is massive and also Salah, at this time, maybe is Europe’s best player.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Hoffenheim’s entrance to the Champions League was masterminded by their brilliant young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 30-year-old is just a few years older than the Norwegian but has proven himself a top manager:

“He is fantastic,” said an excited Nordtveit. “He has great experience and his own style of play. It is a lot of tactics for every new player. Also when I came in then there was a lot of new things I had to learn quite quick.

“I am now starting to see that I learn something in myself to get into the rhythm that he wants. He is like a young, bright, football professor.”

He then gave him high praise, by comparing him to his former Gladbach boss Lucien Favre:

“He reminds me a little bit of Lucien Favre. He thinks about football 24/7. Small details, always, which can mean we take the three points.

“If I could compare him with someone it would be Lucien Favre, which is not a bad comparison.”

Nagelsmann’s clear ability has seen him linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Norwegian came through the ranks at Arsenal, but made it clear that he spent most of his time working with the current Arsenal assistant Steve Bould:

“I spoke with him of course but he was more observing the training. I was more with the reserve team.

“I was more with Steve Bould, the legend. He was quite important for me, a really good guy. I think he was one of the more important guys in Arsenal when I was there.”

Working under the Arsenal legend as a young defender must have been a big learning experience for the Hoffenheim player, who speaks highly of his time at Arsenal:

“I went quite early, about 16,17,” remembered the talented utility man. “It was perhaps the most important choice I did in my career because there I learnt how to do the basics in football.

“I did not play much with the first-team but the experience of training with the first-team and getting to know English football and a really high standard was really important to me.

(Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)

“From there, when I moved to Germany, I had the perfect base to have an OK career.

“Jack Wilshere was there before he finally broke through to the first-team. We had Wojciech Szczesny now second goalkeeper for Juventus. Many of the players are having big careers.  

“For me and a lot of the players we were quite lucky to have this opportunity.”

But Nordtveit still remembers his time fondly. He still follows the club, where good friend Granit Xhaka is also playing.

The Gunners have been unable to put a smile on the face of Nordtveit by picking up the Europa League trophy in Arsene Wenger’s final year.

However, with London outfit set to compete in the competition again next season, under a new manager, the two could well come face-to-face. 

That would be an opportunity Hoffenheim’s intrepid Norwegian would relish.

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Arsenal hero Patrick Viera would be an underwhelming appointment for Everton

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Photo: Getty Images.

The managerial merry-go-round is warming up ready for another summer of action and it looks increasingly likely that Everton could be involved as fans grow more and more unhappy with the management of Sam Allardyce. What may come as a greater surprise is that the club could turn to Arsenal hero Patrick Viera to replace him.

According to Metro, Viera is admired by Everton owner Farhad Moshiri and fits the profile that the Toffees are looking for of a young and dynamic coach to take over at Goodison Park.

Viera has also been linked with the opportunity to replace his former coach Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, where he remains a legend, but is currently under contact with New York City, part of the Manchester City group.

(during the UEFA Youth League Quarter Final match between AS Roma and Manchester City on March 17, 2015 in Latina, Italy.

The Citizens would reportedly not stand in his way of a Premier League move and Everton would be happy to offer more than the £2 million that he currently earns per year, but it would be a hugely underwhelming appointment for the blue half of Merseyside.

Whilst Viera has done well in Major League Soccer in New York, he has not achieved enough to have caught the eye of such a high profile club were it not for his playing career.

Given the finances reportedly available to the next Everton manager and the huge pressure to get an underperforming squad up to scratch and matching expectations, it would be a big gamble if the club were to put their faith in Viera.

He may well have potential, but it would be a surprise to see a club of the size and resources of Everton being the ones to give Viera his first opportunity as a Premier League coach.

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