Former Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Ballack has urged Bastian Schweinsteiger to retire from international football and direct his interests solely towards Manchester United.
The 31-year-old came to Old Trafford last summer on a wave of optimism and excitement, but his first season at the club was plagued by injuries.
Schweinsteiger, after nearly four months out, captained Germany at the European Championships in France this summer.
Ballack, a former teammate of Schweinsteiger for club and country, believes the German midfielder should abandon the strain of international football in order to alleviate his injury problems.
“I know that he [Schweinsteiger] is brutally ambitious,” Ballack wrote in his column.
“But, when you’ve seen him in the past two years, you also have to honestly say that I’m worried about his physical condition after his many injuries.
“It will be difficult enough for him to prevail at Manchester [United] against the sporting competition. That’s why I don’t know whether he’d do himself a favour by naming the 2018 World Cup in Russia as his next personal goal. I’d advise him to consider this step carefully. He could land in a vortex.”
If you were giving me a special offer right now on Schweinsteiger starting 30 games for United next season, I wouldn’t take it but that’s because he’s got so much to prove, least not with his fitness, despite being so experienced.
Ballack, who retired early from international football himself in order to prolong his club career, is spot on with his advice to Schweinsteiger. The demanding task of captaining his own country, alongside embarking on his first season in England, had an adverse effect on the German last year, who only managed 18 appearances last campaign.
Schweinsteiger ought to examine the case of former Man United midfielder Paul Scholes, who retired from international football in 2004, and consequently went on to have nine historical years at the club. Ryan Giggs did the same in 2007. More recently, Zlatan Ibrahimovic hung up his international boots in order to focus completely on United.
It feels as if Schweinsteiger needs to make this move if he is to establish himself at Old Trafford in the coming years.