Morgan Schneiderlin may have been unsuccessful in his attempts to engineer a move away from Southampton this summer, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
ESPN has today published quotes from an interview the midfielder gave with French newspaper RMC, detailing how he pushed for an exit from St. Mary’s, but found his route blocked by his club’s insistence on keeping him.
The France international was heavily linked with moves to both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for the duration of the summer, with reports even claiming that he had tried to hand in a transfer request in order to force a move to north London. Schneiderlin has now confirmed that he indeed did try to navigate a transfer, but the powers that be on the South Coast stood firmly in his way.
“My situation was clear: at the end of the year, my aim was to leave to make a step up and play in a club that was in the Champions League or the Europa League," Schneiderlin said.
“There were offers on the table, but Southampton made a clear choice, which was to keep me after the departures of several key players. They're counting on me for the future.”
It’s generally believed that Saints’ determination with regards to keeping Schneiderlin at the club was due to the fact that they’d let a host of their other stars leave. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert were sold to Liverpool whilst Luke Shaw was shipped to Manchester United and Calum Chambers made a surprise move to Arsenal.
As such the new management, installed after Mauricio Pochettino’s move to Tottenham Hotspur, decided to draw the line at Schneiderlin, despite the fact that he was obviously keen to leave.
“They blocked, me, I have to accept that. I still have three years left on my contract. I couldn't allow myself to sulk and not play. I owe a lot to Southampton, who have enabled me to get into the French national side,” the 24-year-old continued.
"I couldn't allow myself to go against the supporters, who have been great with me. It wouldn't have been cool on my part to launch into an endless fight."
Despite the niceties on display now however Schneiderlin was known to have been deeply annoyed by Southampton’s decision to play hard-ball with suitors looking to negotiate over his future.
Both Arsenal and Spurs made attempts to land him and, with each club historically having produced better results than Southampton, would have probably fitted the category Schneiderlin is talking about when he says his ambition was to “make a step up.”
Arsene Wenger’s interest in the £27 million-rated holding midfielder was clear from the early stages on the summer transfer window, as the Gunners boss was looking to add bite to his midfield. Though Alexis Sanchez and then Danny Welbeck were purchased by Arsenal neither fix the issue with regards to finding someone adept at sitting in front of the back four and acting as a shield.
Tottenham on the other hand were in a slightly more favourable position due to the relationship Pochettino has with his former player. The Argentinian was on good terms with virtually every player in his squad and it’s therefore safe to assume Schneiderlin would have no reservations when it came to working with him again.