When Manchester United paid £27 million for Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin they were purchasing a player who had shown himself to be an excellent defensive midfielder for the South Coast side, helping them to seventh place in the Premier League in the season before his departure.
The move was supposed to be the making of the Frenchman, securing his place in the France squad for the European Championships which would take place on home soil the following summer, as well as giving Manchester United a long term replacement for Michael Carrick.
Things have not worked out that way, though. Schneiderlin has spent a lot of his time at Old Trafford this season on the bench, as well as flitting in and out of the starting line up last term. He is now seen as no more than a bit part player who Jose Mourinho is happy to move on.
Several Premier League clubs are hoping to capitalise on Schneiderlin’s availability, and the first club to make a move is West Bromwich Albion, who have tabled a bid of £13 million for the services of the Frenchman.
The ex-Southampton midfielder would certainly be a great signing for any team in the league, but he could make a huge impact on the sides currently battling for seventh place in the division, West Brom being one of them. His tidy passing and tough tackling would add some class and coolness on the ball to the Baggies midfield, without them losing any bite or aggression. It would certainly help the likes of Matty Phillips, Nacer Chadli and Salomon Rondon to have such an accurate passer playing behind them as well.
Schneiderlin has reportedly told Mourinho that he is keen to move on, and who can blame him. To be signed for almost £30 million and then see Marouane Fellaini picked ahead of you by two successive managers must be pretty demoralising to any player’s confidence.
But although it looks likely that the 27-year-old will depart either in January or in the summer, there are plenty of statistics to suggest that United should think very hard before they consider letting their man leave Old Trafford.
For example, Schneiderlin started 25 league games for United last season. The team won 14 of those, drawing six and losing five, picking up 48 points at a rate of 1.92 points per game.
In the 13 games when Schneiderlin wasn’t included in the starting line up, United won five, drew three and lost five. United lost as many games in half the time without the defensive midfielder as with him.
United’s rate of 1.92 points per game with Schneiderlin over the course of 38 games would add up to a total of 73 points. This suggests that had Schneiderlin started every game last season, the Red Devils would not only have qualified for the Champions League, but in fact finished second in the league.
Without him the rate of points per game was just 1.38, which would have added up to 52 points over the season. This would have left United eighth in the league, below Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton.
These stats do not mean that if Schneiderlin moves to the Hawthorns that Tony Pulis will suddenly guide the Baggies into the Champions League and United will fall into mid-table obscurity but it does show the difference that the 27-year-old can make to a team.
If West Brom sign Schneiderlin they will concede less goals and win more points, that cannot be doubted. What can be doubted, though, is whether United should have given him more of a chance, and whether they will regret selling him when Michael Carrrick isn’t around any more.
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