Tuesday, 14 July 2015

From Saint To Red Devil: Morgan Schneiderlin.

A Dutchman, an Italian, a German and now a Frenchman have created their very own European Union by signing for Manchester United. Last season the signings had a South American flair to it, but this summer Louis van Gaal has brought in talent from a lot closer to home.

Morgan Schneiderlin's move to United continues the long line of French talent to have graced the Theatre of Dreams. The midfielder has joined United on a four-year deal with an initial fee of around £24m.

One benefit of his signing is that he has the valuable experience of English football from his seven years playing at Southampton which have included stints not only in the Premier League but also both the Championship and League 1, add to that he is 25 years old, therefore United have signed a player coming into the prime of his career.

Schneiderlin was born in 1989 in Zellwiller, France and began his route to Old Trafford at RC Strasbourg aged only seven years old and progressed through their youth system finally making his debut eleven years later in 2006. After being groomed so long by the club he would only make a handful of appearances before being sold as his team were relegated from Ligue 1 at the end of the 2007-08 season.

His next port of call was Southampton joining them in the summer of 2008 for a fee of £1.2m. At the time, Southampton were in The Championship of the Football League and struggling with finance and fighting relegation. The manager at that time was Jan Poortvliet and he built a young side until he departed in January of Morgan's first season.

Worse was to come for the Saints as they were deducted 10 points as the owning company went into administration which guaranteed relegation to League One. Even with all the vultures surrounding the club Schneiderlin stuck with them.

It took Southampton three years and four managers to climb back to the Premier League and Schneiderlin was a huge influence on that success and was awarded for his loyalty with a new three-year contract in 2011.

Once back in the Premier League the Frenchman started to blossom as a midfielder and started to make bigger clubs sit up and take notice of his quality, however, he decided to stay at St.Mary's by extending his contract to 2017.

Not known for his goalscoring exploits, in 230 appearances for Southampton he only managed 14 goals, Morgan did manage to score against his future employers in a 3-2 loss to United at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. He performed at such a high, consistent level that season he was honoured as the Saints player of the year by both his colleagues and fans alike.

The following campaign, he made a total of 37 appearances as Southampton finally started to compete well in the Premier League, but they still found it difficult to hold on to their young, talented players and the likes of Luke Shaw departed for a chance of glory at bigger clubs.

In April 2015, Morgan received an injury that would keep him out for the remainder of the season and mean that he had played his last game as a Saint. Many suitors came calling for his services, including Spurs and Liverpool but it was the Red Devils who got their man and as in his own words 'Once I learned that United was interested in signing me, it was a very easy decision to make.'

His signing was announced along with the quality signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the new midfield of United is starting to take on a formidable shape add to that existing reds Carrick, Mata, Herrera, Fellaini & Co. next season promises to be an exciting campaign.

United have captured a player with a high work rate and natural ability a player who relishes a battle in the middle of the park and is not afraid to get stuck into tackles and his skills should aid the other players around him. How van Gaal will juggle the talent he has at his disposal only he knows, but it will certainly offer United positive options to choose from.

On a cautionary note Schneiderlin does seem to have a bad habit of getting his name taken by referees for example, in the last four seasons, he has received a total of 32 yellow cards, but only 1 red, which means he will have to tread carefully at United.

On the international front, Morgan has represented France at all levels and made his debut for the full squad against Jamaica in 2014 and was taken to the World Cup finals after originally being on standby. He made only one appearance in the tournament in Brazil and has to date played nine times for the 'Les Bleus'.

On a side note, before he played for the full international side there were rumours that he could, in fact, represent England as he had earned a British citizenship but it wasn't to be.

Welcome to Manchester Morgan and the best of luck.

Miles Dunton.