Morgan Schneiderlin - Player Profile

Will United’s Schneiderlin Continue To Dazzle The Premier League?

Personal information
Full name: Morgan Schneiderlin
Date of birth: 8 November 1989 
Age: 25
Place of birth: Zellwiller, France
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position: Midfielder

Club information
Current team: Manchester United

Youth career
1995–2005: Strasbourg

Senior career
2005–2008: Strasbourg B 37 Appearances, 5 goals
2006–2008: Strasbourg 5 Appearances, 0 goals
2008–2015: Southampton 260 Appearances, 15 goals

National team
2004–2005: France U16 6 Appearances, 0 goals
2005–2006: France U17 5 Appearances, 0 goals
2006–2007: France U18 2 Appearances, 0 goals
2007–2008: France U19 6 Appearances, 0 goals
2009–2010: France U20 9 Appearances, 1 goal
2010: France U21 3 Appearances, 1 goal
2014– France 9 Appearances, 0 goals 

Manchester United signed Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton last week as Louis van Gaal's midfield overhaul continued. Schneiderlin, 25, was confirmed as a United player 15 minutes after Bastian Schweinsteiger in a double move that has taken United's summer spending towards the £80 million mark. United agreed a reported fee of around £25m for Schneiderlin and the France international passed a medical and agreed personal terms on a four-year contract, with the option of a further year. Schneiderlin scored five minutes into his first Manchester United appearance as they beat Mexican side Club America 1-0 in Seattle this past weekend.

He is certainly worth the £25 fee to Southampton, who have grown used to seeing their stellar performers pilfered, albeit generally at a premium. He was deemed central last season to a team that flourished. Koeman effectively built his whole line-up around him, his significance to the collective perhaps best exposed in the home defeat by Manchester City in November. The hosts were excellent up to the interval, stretching the then champions, but wilted after the break when Schneiderlin was substituted after suffering a thigh injury. Although the France international’s importance to Southampton was clear, it remains to be seen whether he can command such a similarly pivotal role at Old Trafford. Schneiderlin will enter a dressing room crammed with elite performers. This is a different environment, and one to which he will have to adjust if his game is to continue progressing and United are to feel they have paid an appropriate price.

Despite having his 2014-15 campaign disrupted by injury, Schneiderlin improved where it mattered, raising his already-impressive tackle success rate from 77 per cent in 2013-14 to 82.3% and increasing his interceptions per game from 2.06 to 2.42, while exactly maintaining his passing accuracy at 89.3%. It is that last stat which should be so encouraging for United fans. Not only is Schneiderlin a defensive midfielder to rival any in the Premier League but he is also thoroughly capable on the ball, be it making a short pass to a nearby colleague or attempting a more ambitious one further forward. His range of distribution has been one of his most impressive improvements over the last two seasons. If there is an area of his development lagging behind the rest, it is his goal tally, which should be higher than the 12 in all competitions since the Saints’ promotion to the top flight, given his ability to drive forward from the middle of the pitch. But this is a minor issue, considering Schneiderlin’s primary role in the team, and one that is likely to be addressed by the coaching staff at Old Trafford. At 25-years-old, there is still room for them to develop their investment even as he enters what should be his prime. With an unmatched 626 tackles and interceptions over the last three top-flight seasons, Schneiderlin should be in the conversation when considering the best midfielders in England during that time. The Frenchman joined Southampton from his local club, Strasbourg, in 2008 just before their drop into League One. His growth since then, from a lanky 18-year-old, to a mature, accomplished performer has mirrored the Saints’ own rise back to prominence. A regular in the first team ever since, Schneiderlin has been the lynchpin of Southampton’s midfield over the last four years, growing into his physique and learning to combine imposing defence with attacking contribution. Having forced his way into France’s World Cup squad at the end of 2013-14 – an impressive feat for a player outside of the traditional big clubs – Schneiderlin was ready to push for a move. A player of his quality ought to be playing Champions League football and no Southampton fan could begrudge him that after so many years of magnificent service. His departure has also been softened by Victor Wanyama’s emergence in his second season on the south coast. Schneiderlin now has the perfect platform to flourish alongside the likes of Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick at Old Trafford.

Schneiderlin could be the X-factor in Manchester United’s quest for a 21st title. To put it another way: it is difficult to claim the title without a central midfielder who stars all season. So if Schneiderlin is first choice but is mediocre, the club faces disappointment. He is unproven at elite level so there would be some surprise if he swept United to championship glory. But Van Gaal is a shrewd judge of ability and the Dutchman will believe that the Frenchman can rise to the challenge.