The relentless circus that is the summer transfer window has churned out another rumour now and a strong one at that, linking Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United to a midfielder that is not named ‘Wesley Sneijder’, raising several eyebrows on social media platforms. Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin is the new, yet largely familiar, name to be associated with Manchester United as the Red Devils look to spend big again in a quest to improve on last season and mount a genuine title challenge in the campaign ahead. The move looks plausible after the 25-year old admitted he could leave Southampton for an English club that will take part in the Champions League next season, narrowing down the possible destinations to four – Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United*. (*Qualified for the two-legged playoffs)
From Manchester United’s perspective, Morgan Schneiderlin will be seen as the ideal long-term replacement for Michael Carrick who will turn 34 this July. Van Gaal has been crying out for balance in the midfield when Carrick is sidelined and Morgan Schneiderlin could bring to Manchester United just that, coupled with the ability to break up play and a sense of authority the side has lacked at times. At 25, it is safe to say Schneiderlin has plenty of time ahead of him to settle in and improve playing and learning alongside the likes of Carrick himself and make the holding midfield position his own for the foreseeable future.
Crunching some numbers, the Frenchman has appeared 26 times (2 from the bench) in the Premier League this season helping his team win 14 of those and losing only 7 games in the process. The 25-year old has made a vital contribution to Koeman’s side that has done so well defensively with him being at the forefront of everything good about the Saints’ performance at the back, organising that back four, making timely interceptions, crucial tackles and what not. In what has been a spectacular second season in the Premier League for him and Southampton, Morgan Schneiderlin has managed to average 4 defensive actions per game – the most for a midfielder at Southampton (alongside Wanyama) that includes 110 interceptions and clearances combined. Added to that, the midfielder has also chipped in with 4 goals and a solitary assist making him one of the most sought after holding midfielders in the Premier League at this point in time.
The statistics look even more impressive when compared with fellow deep-lying midfielders in Carrickm, who could be his future teammate, and Nemanja Matic, who is widely regarded as the best in his position in the Premier League.
The comparison table above (courtesy of Squawka) has produced some interesting results as far as Schneiderlin’s position in the Premier League as a whole is concerned. It appears that the Frenchman is clearly better than his counterparts in two absolutely key areas that serve as virtual barometers for a holding midfielder using which one can come to a conclusion as to where they stand with respect to others playing in a similar position. Scheiderlin has managed to make 2.59 interceptions and 3.25 tackles per 90 minutes placing him well ahead of Michael Carrick signalling the potential upgrade he could turn out to be for Manchester United. His passing completion has been remarkable as well although one cannot expect him to be as inventive as the English 33-year old but playing alongside him and fellow top quality midfielders could only make him better, if anything.
The fact that Morgan Schneiderlin has taken to the Premier League as well as any foreign player plus his inspiring performances against the big clubs will have hardly gone unnoticed which also explains the interest shown by some of those in Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United themselves. While Canal + suggests that it could be Old Trafford that the 24-year old will be heading to, anything under the rumored fee of £25 million should be viewed as a good deal, for both parties. In a long and exhaustive list of right footed midfielders that Van Gaal is going after that reads Ilkay Gundogan, Bastian Schweinsteiger and now Morgan Schneiderlin to replace Michael Carrick and restore balance, it looks the Frenchman could be the most appropriate.