Morgan Schneiderlin was at the heart of perhaps the most controversial summer transfer saga earlier this year. The Southampton midfielder tried to force his way out of the south coast club, who had been strong-armed into selling off a host of their best players following the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Luke Shaw went to Manchester United. Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren went to Liverpool. Calum Chambers went to Arsenal.
In a few short weeks, the Saints had been picked apart by the Premier League big boys, and it looked like the vultures were circling looking to pick off the remains too. Schneiderlin, having earned a call up for France's World Cup squad, believed he had been promised a move if a big-name suitor came calling. Arsenal and Tottenham obliged.
However a meeting with Southampton and a request to leave was greeted with a unanimous no.Schneiderlin didn't take the news well, judging by his now infamous tweet.
Southampton, with new boss Ronald Keoman stuck to their guns and kept Schneiderlin at the club and the gamble has paid off - they currently sit in second place in the Premier League having bought in the likes of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle over the summer, both of whom have taken to English football like ducks to water. Schneiderlin has accepted the club's decision, has been key to their good form. Crisis, what crisis?
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However it seems as though we could be back to square one. In an interview with France Football Federation's official website, Schneiderlin has suggested that if Southampton don't claim a top four finish, he could be heading towards the exit.
He said: "A career passes quickly and I want to play for a big club. Today I am at Southampton. We are second in the Premier League, it is going well. We'll see at the end of the season what will happen if we are still in the Champions League places and I will make the choice. I will see with my club."
While that spells trouble for Saints fans, supporters of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal will be licking their lips. Only two players have made more tackles that the French ace in the Premier League this season and he averages almost 70 passes-per-game (the fourth highest in the league). He's even chipped in with three goals as well.
Arsenal certainly need a defensive midfielder, but Schneiderlin may not be the man for the job. The former Strasbourg ace is so much more than a defensive midfielder; he's more of an all-action box-to-box type player; at the time of signing his new Southampton contract last year he had covered the most miles-per-game in the Premier League. Arsenal have plenty of midfield runners going forward like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, so it would be a waste of half his game were he charged with sitting and protecting the back four.
Manchester United could be a good fit for Schneiderlin; they have been looking at dynamic types like Kevin Strootman and Arturo Vidal. The Southampton man can certainly do just as good a job for much cheaper; although whether the Old Trafford faithful will accept him when they could have signed a big-name star remains to be seen.
Old Trafford bound?
However they seem to have signed the composite parts of Schneiderlin across three different players. Fellaini is the muscle, Herrera is the passer, Blind is the intelligence - so it seems unlikely that there will be room for him at Old Trafford.
That leaves Tottenham, who are frankly crying out for his services. They need his energy having slumped to 12th in the league table following a run of just three wins in 10 league games. They need his leadership to arrest a slide that could take the job of Pochettino - the man he forged a strong relationship with on the south coast.
In his place, Pochettino has played Etienne Capoue as his midfield operator and he's done a solid enough job -but he doesn't have the mobility of Schneiderlin. Often when Spurs are in possession it's slow and ponderous Schneiderlin is the man to change that, to add some impetus to their play.
Of course this all hinges on whether Southampton can maintain their winning start. They look pretty strong right now but it's far too early to say whether they can stay the course. If they don't, then there's plenty of clubs willing to spirit one of their best players away.
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