SINGAPORE/ LONDON: Manchester United have thrown down the gauntlet to their Premier League title rivals after making a dramatic double swoop for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin on Monday to improve their midfield.
German World Cup winner Schweinsteiger, who played under United manager Louis van Gaal for two years at Bayern Munich, agreed a three-year contract after United tied up a reported £14.4 million deal to sign him from the Bundesliga giants.
And France international Schneiderlin signed from Southampton for a fee in the region of £25 million after agreeing a four-year contract, with the option of a further one-year extension.
United’s midfield duo are expected to jet out immediately to join their teammates, including fellow new boys Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian, for the club’s pre-season tour of the US.
They could make their first appearances in a United shirt against Mexican side Club America in Seattle on July 17.
And there was more good news for United as Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea was confirmed among their travelling party for their US tour, seemingly ruling out any imminent move to Real Madrid.
Schweinsteiger, 30, made 500 appearances for Bayern and won eight Bundesliga titles, as well as making 111 appearances for his country, culminating in their successful 2014 World Cup campaign.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bayern Munich, it has been an incredible journey and I didn’t take the decision to leave lightly. Manchester United is the only club that I would have left Munich for,” he said.
Confirmation of Schneiderlin’s arrival followed shortly after that of Schweinsteiger.
The 25-year-old, who had also been attracting interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, impressed in a fine season for Southampton last season and said he had no doubts about his future once he realised United were showing an interest.
“Once I learned that United were interested in signing me, it was a very easy decision to make. I have enjoyed seven very happy years with Southampton and it’s a club that will always be in my heart,” said Schneiderlin.
Arsenal welcome new addition Cech
The arrival of goalkeeper Petr Cech has given Arsenal’s unfairly criticised defensive unit a welcome boost and could be the missing piece in the title puzzle, said his new side.
Pundits and fans have frequently cited last line weaknesses as the reason why Arsenal have not won the Premier League since 2004; finishing third last season, 12 points behind champions Chelsea.
But the signing of the renowned Czech international, who enjoyed a trophy-laden decade at Chelsea before being usurped by Belgian Thibaut Courtois last term, has spurred belief of bridging the gap.
“From day one you felt his presence; he communicates well on and off the pitch, speaks several languages so I think he can add that extra something we may be missing at the moment,” German defender Per Mertesacker told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday.
“We are very happy with him and I think he has a good feeling as well about joining us and contributing to our team.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.
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