Age is a horrible thing, isn’t it? One person, you could ask about this is Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German captain missed a large chunk of the season for Manchester United with a knee injury but regained a certain degree of fitness just in time for his countries European Championships campaign. He made it onto the pitch for the German national side and even bagged himself a goal in the process. His penalty miss went unpunished as the efficient Germans navigated their way past Italy and into the semifinals of the competition and Schweinsteiger was hopeful he would be a part of their plans and take some of his regained fitness into preseason with Manchester United. Then age struck.
The Manchester Evening News report that the now veteran midfielder has suffered another knee injury, one that will now severely hamper preparations for the upcoming season. This fresh news comes at a critical time for both player and club. A lateral collateral ligament strain is the diagnosis, and it is the third knee injury he has suffered in 2016 alone and sparks real concern at the longevity left in what has been an illustrious career. It comes as a blow to Jose Mourinho’s plans for the side, as another injury and the real threat of recurrence leaves no guarantee Schweinsteiger can be a regular fixture within the squad going forward. And guarantees is what Mourinho needs as he looks to bolster his side with additions.
It was believed perhaps only one central midfielder would be enough to secure decent depth at Old Trafford, but with Marouane Fellaini likely to leave, Michael Carrick quickly losing legs and Schweinsteiger joining him fast that leaves just Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin as the recognised out-and-out central midfielders in the side. So what does this mean? What is the possible plan? Well, first and foremost there has to be additions. Paul Pogba is being heavily linked, although the likelihood is still in the balance. William Carvalho and Andre Gomes are other names that have been touted with a move to Manchester, any one of these would be ideal. Two would be even better, just to cover all bases. Then there are the resources on offer already, and though Schneiderlin and Herrera are the only players that regularly featured there last season Daley Blind came to Old Trafford as a centre midfielder, and Wayne Rooney appears to be destined for a future there.
Whether Mourinho chooses to utilise what is at hand (the signing of Eric Bailly freeing up Blind for a midfield role being another point in favour of that happening) or up the ante in his recruitment drive will come to light in the weeks to come. But whatever stance he takes the potentially prolonged absence of Schweinsteiger is a bigger blow than just in numbers. The leadership qualities he holds and the orchestral way in which he goes about his business on the pitch could be a huge factor in United regaining their success. He may be close behind Carrick in terms of fitness, but when he is fit he is streets ahead in terms of effectiveness. There is life in the old dog yet, and with just an ounce of luck, United can squeeze the last drops of class from him. If only he had signed five years ago.