At the youthful age of 26, Bastian Schweinsteiger has already a rather successful career. His current haul of five Bundesliga titles, five German Cups, two League Cups and a Champions League runners up medal is enough to make any retired player jealous, let alone one of a similar age. His achievements are even more remarkable when one considers that the midfielder has been very much a ‘one-club’ man – starting out with Bayern Munich nearly a decade ago and remaining with them ever since.
Now though, with two years left on his current contract and Europe’s top clubs sniffing around, is it time for Schweinsteiger to say auf wierdersehen to Germany?
Certainly if he stays with Bayern it doesn’t look as though he will be adding to his trophy collection this season. The Bavarian club currently sit 11th in the Bundesliga, twelve points behind leaders Mainz, and have looked a different side to the one that challenged for the Champions League last year. In the German Cup, Schweinsteiger’s two goals might have seen them past Werder Bremen in the end, but they were second-best for much of the match and were let off on a few occasions by some wayward Bremen finishing.
Whether or not they will succeed once they get out of one of the easiest groups in the Champions League remains to be seen, however, competition this year is especially strong and another run to the final seems unlikely.
Two of the key problems this year for Bayern have been the wingers – Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Both have suffered from injuries post-World Cup and it is becoming clear just reliant the German club were on the pair last season. There has also been plenty of potentially unsettling talk about Ribery’s future and, along with Schweinsteiger, he could well leave Bayern if given a chance to do so.
The question for Schweinsteiger though is surely where to go, rather than if. The midfielder has given some of his best years to the Bavarian side and it seems only right that a player of his calibre should have the opportunity to test himself in either England, Italy or Spain. His early season form this year has attracted interest from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, amongst others, and with a reported price-tag of €35 million he should be affordable.
While they might have lost some of their glamour recently, perhaps the most interesting option for Schweinsteiger is United. With Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs nearing the end of their careers, there is a clear opportunity for the Bayern midfielder to not only become an instant starter at Old Trafford, but to become a long-term hero. Should he leave the Allianz Arena next year he will be almost 27-years-old and will be nearing the peak of his career – a time that he could spend with such exciting talents as Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Nani.
At Madrid, Schweinsteiger would no doubt be competing for more trophies to add to his cabinet, but he would also have to cope with becoming a small fish in a big pond and might take time to adapt to Spanish football. Likewise, he would no doubt be in his element alongside Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, but would he be a certain starter each week under Pep Guardiola?
While he is a vital part of the puzzle at Bayern Munich now, his performances this season have only illustrated how well suited he would be in the midfield of any top club around Europe. While many of the fans won’t want him to leave next summer, they would surely not begrudge him the move, and the opportunity to add yet more trophies to the cabinet – whether with Manchester, or Madrid.