Arsenal in secret talks to sign Manchester United star: Deal close as world-class star prepares for Emirates Stadium switch
Arsenal are planning a shock move for Germany legend and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger on short-term deal as boss Arsene Wenger looks for more top-level experience in the centre of the pitch.
The 32-year-old is currently on the fringes of the first team picture at United. Upon boss Jose Mourinho’s arrival in the summer seemed to end his career at the club completely, with Schweinsteiger being dropped to the reserves, but he has since fought back to at least train with the senior side.
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Mourinho is still looking to overhaul the squad at Old Trafford, so it is likely the playmaker will be available in the summer. That could alert Wenger, who is currently under pressure at Arsenal after a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich, the club Schweinsteiger left to join United in 2015, in midweek. One of the main criticisms of Wenger and his team right now is the lack of leadership and composure on the big stage. Having won the Champions League at Bayern and the World Cup with Germany, Schweinsteiger could most definitely offer those qualities to the side.
With Shkodran Mustafi, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil already at the club, there is a German connection that could see Schweinsteiger settle quickly in North London. The United man is still one of the best passers of a football in Europe, but he doesn’t have the mobility to compete with the likes of Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera for a place in Mourinho’s plans, but with Wenger’s ideology, which centres more around keeping the ball, Schweinsteiger could really thrive at Arsenal.
But there are real doubts over Wenger’s future at the club. The Frenchman, currently in his 21st year with the Gunners, is battling calls for him to step down at the end of the current season, with his contract running out. The man himself claims he will definitely be managing next season and will decide in March or April whether that will be at Arsenal.
The uncertainty doesn’t stop there, with Özil and Alexis Sanchez’s contract situation also unclear right now. Signing Schweinsteiger may not excite the fans and serve as proof of a new, successful era, but a deal would provide the squad with necessary improvements because they have missed players who offer what he can for a long time now.
If he did sign, it would put Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny under pressure. The trio have all struggled with performances at times this season and could perhaps benefit from the extra competiton.
From the player’s point of view, he would most likely jump at the chance to join Arsenal. Reports of a move to China or the United States are rife, and while Schweinsteiger has previously said United would be his last club in Europe, he probably wouldn’t expect such an opportunity to present itself.
Bailly, Shaw, Mata, Pogba, Schweinsteiger, Ibrahimovic. Got to be close to the best selection of substitutes a manager has ever had.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) 19 February 2017
While Wenger doesn’t exactly have a reputation of giving ageing players a new lease of life, he could offer Schweinsteiger something as well as the other way around. While Mourinho saw Petr Cech and Juan Mata join Arsenal and United respectively during his second spell in charge at Chelsea, the Portuguese coach does not like allowing his players to join Premier League rivals, so he may prefer Schweinsteiger to go abroad of he does leave United in the coming months.
On the pitch, Arsenal are still faring better than United, currently fourth in the league and on course for yet another campaign in the Champions League. The Gunners are also hunting a third FA Cup in four years, with United the current holders. Both are still in the hunt, with the Red Devils securing a quarter-final meeting at Chelsea by beating Blackburn Rovers over the weekend. Arsenal will secure a home tie with Lincoln City if they can beat the only other non-league side still in the competition, Sutton United, at Gander Green Lane on Monday night.