Rumours continue to circulate concerning the future of Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, with some reports suggesting that the Frenchman is keen to move to Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal ended a promising first season as manager in disappointing fashion by only winning one of his last six games. This late slump meant that third position slipped from Man United’s grasp.
This downturn in form occurred after Michael Carrick suffered a calf injury against Manchester City which sidelined the midfielder for the rest of the season.
The immense failure to recover from the loss of Carrick is indicative of Van Gaal’s over-reliance on the 33-year-old, who will not be at United for much longer as his career draws to a close.
With this thought undoubtedly prevalent in the Dutchman’s mind, interest in Schneiderlin comes as no surprise.
Van Gaal painfully observed the French midfielder at his ominous, destructive best as Southampton secured their first ever Premier League win at Old Trafford back in January. United struggled to break down the stoic visitors, who were marshaled by the resolute Schneiderlin.
Amid the constant outgoings from St Marys in the summer of 2014, with manager Mauricio Pochettino leaving alongside key players like Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw and Callum Chambers, Southampton were predicted to struggle – some even tipped them for relegation.
However, led by Scneiderlin, Ronald Koeman’s side surprised critics by finishing in seventh position and qualified for the Europa League.
Their surprisingly good start to the 2014/15 campaign was largely down to the no-nonsense attitude of Schneiderlin, who acted as an aggressor in the middle of the park and, in similar fashion to Carrick, a late season injury saw the Saints lose three of their last four matches.
His supreme energy and drives makes him a nightmare for opposing players. Schneiderlin is a silent but vital influence for Southampton. The Frenchman’s ability to break up play and get things moving has led to many seeing the midfielder as the ideal replacement for Carrick.
Furthermore, Schneiderlin’s open disappointment towards his goal record (five in 29) is indicative of him looking to develop and improve his game.
While Carrick’s game revolves around redistributing the ball and getting things moving, Schneiderlin’s game places more emphasis on regaining the ball and thwarting the opposition’s momentum. In this sense, the latter is a more robust type of player who focuses on eliminating threats.
By replacing Carrick with Schneiderlin, you’re not making a like for like swap where one player steps into the shoes of another and does the same job.
Instead, you gain more firmness at the expense of losing some self-assurance on the ball.
As far as a replacement for Carrick goes, Schneiderlin is a very good one. With Premier League experience under his belt, the French midfield stalwart would bring some much needed steel and grit to United’s core.
Although he can’t boast the same deftness in possession as the Englishman, the 25 year old has plenty of time to develop his game and establish himself as one of the Premier League’s top midfielders in the near future. Letting him go to a rival club like Arsenal could come back to haunt Louis van Gaal.