After 120 international caps, 24 goals, and a world cup, Bastian Schweinsteiger has finally decided to end his fantastic spell with the German national team. The announcement has come 3 weeks after his German side were knocked out of Euro 2016 by hosts and runners-up France. The ex-Germany captain and Manchester United midfielder announced his retirement from the national team via twitter, in which he stated:
“Dear fans of the Germany national team, I have just asked the national team coach not to consider me anymore for his national team selections in the future since I would like to retire.
“My thanks go to the fans, the team, the DFB [German Football Association], the coaches and the German national team, I was able to run out 120 times for my country and experience moments which were indescribably beautiful and successful.
“Jogi Löw knew how much Euro 2016 in France meant to me because I desperately wanted to win this title, which we have not been able to bring back to Germany since 1996. It wasn’t meant to be and I have to accept this.
“By winning the 2014 World Cup, we did something historic and also achieved something emotional which will never be repeated again in my career. Therefore it is only right and sensible to call it a day now and wish the team all the best for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and for the final tournament.
“To finish with, I would like to say to the fans ‘it was an honour to be able to play for you, many thanks for everything I was able to experience with you!’ Yours, Bastian Schweinsteiger.”
Schweinsteiger made his debut in June 2004, and a decade later he was able to help his side bring home the World Cup trophy, followed by becoming captain for his country. But what does it mean for his domestic career with Manchester United?
It is clear that Bastian Schweinsteiger is a world class player, a further look at his International CV shows how he has two third-place World Cup finishes and one runner-up finish at the 2008 European Championship. But as most Manchester United fans know well, history is in the past, and what matters is the present. Due to this, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s future with Manchester United seems to be unclear, and whilst his record might be exceptional both domestically and internationally, can he still perform to achieve those expectations?
In the last few weeks, rumors that Schweinsteiger was not wanted in Jose Mourinho’s long-term plan have escalated and haven’t stopped. As of most recent, it has been reported that Jose Mourinho has set nine players available for transfers or loans, a list which includes Schweinsteiger’s name, alongside Adnan Januzaj, Will Keane, James Wilson, Andreas Pereira, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair. Looking at the list, it is clear that all, except for Schweinsteiger, are young players in need of experience and playing time in order to be in the contention for the starting role at Manchester United. But Bastian Schweinsteiger still has a valid reason to stay at the club, it is just unknown exactly what Jose Mourinho thinks of the now ex-German captain.
Personally, I believe that Bastian Schweinsteiger still has a lot to give to the club, even though he might not suit Jose Mourinho’s physical demands. His first major benefit to the club is his experience, and in the current young squad that the team has, they need every experienced player possible. A variety of players has been able to adapt to different styles of play as they have gotten older, and put their experience to influence and improve those around them. Bastian Schweinsteiger could easily fulfill the style of play that the likes of Paul Scholes once had. Unfortunately, that opportunity might not be available, as it seems that the midfield structure and players available will make it difficult for Schweinsteiger to have the same effect.
In my opinion, I believe that Schweinsteiger will benefit the team the most by having an energetic midfield partner such as Ander Herrera next to him. This will enable the midfield to have a variety of midfield pairings since the likes of Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin would also be available if needed, and can provide a different style of play. Unfortunately for Schweinsteiger, with Paul Pogba likely arriving at the club, he might not have the physicality and energy that a player such as Pogba would have. The important question really is, what would the club benefit from releasing him? We were already able to purchase him for an absolute bargain, meaning we wouldn’t be able to sell him for a higher amount than for what we paid for him, which won’t be higher than £10 million. In today’s football world, £10 million isn’t exactly what is needed to buy the players of Jose Mourinho’s demands.
Bastian Schweinsteiger himself understands that at his age, he needs a longer period of time to recover and needs to be very careful with his body, thus why I believe he retired from International football, and won’t mind having a place in the squad as one of the main rotation players. I heavily believe that in the current side he would be most beneficial when he is used to controlling the tempo of the game and lead the players around him. Looking at the previous season, Schweinsteiger made 890 successful passes from 18 games which resulted in a pass completion of 85%. In the world stage, he is still seen as one of the most cool and collected midfielders, a trait which is very useful for teams who need players that can lead the team and remain in the lead in the last stages of games, or pursue a goal, something Manchester United saw many times last year.
It should also be taken into account the long-term benefits that Schweinsteiger can bring to the club. Last season the club already showed respect for Schweinsteiger in his injured period where he was able to sit in around United legends, showing how the club heavily believe he is a legend of the game. But what if Schweinsteiger takes slow steps away from the game, and begins to work behind the spotlight, by possibly helping the club out with youth players, for example. It is simply an idea of what he could do, but judging by how smart he seems to be on and off the pitch, I wouldn’t be surprised if Schweinsteiger continued his long-term future in a similar area.
At the end of the day, few factors truly determine what Schweinsteiger’s future will be at Manchester United, but his importance to the team can still be very useful. His future might begin to look over, but having a player such as Schweinsteiger as a rotation player might be the best option for both parties.