Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have all been dealt a blow to their January recruitment plans, as top target Morgan Schneiderlin has insisted a departure from Southampton during the transfer window is unlikely.
According to the Daily Mirror, the France international has long been linked with a move away from St Mary’s and even briefly went on strike in the summer after being denied what looked like a certain switch to White Hart Lane as one of the many stars sold by the Saints.
"January is always a delicate month to leave in"
However, he soon came round to the idea of staying on the South Coast and has been outstanding in an unexpectedly good season for Ronald Koeman’s side, so far. With the performances he has been putting in, there is little surprise that the likes of Louis van Gaal and Arsene Wenger are coveting him.
The report claims that January bids were being lined up by the clubs from Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford to test Southampton’s resolve, as well as the continued interest from his former boss at Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino, but that all three will have to wait until the summer of 2015 before they can land him.
“That I don’t know. January is always a delicate month to leave in. I will finish my season with Southampton and then see what happens in the future,” he told French television show Telefoot this weekend.
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“I don’t get worried about these things anymore. If this summer I have learned something, you can never think: I am gone, gone for good.”
‘This summer’ refers to his publicly shown discontent at not being granted the move to Spurs after the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers had all been allowed to leave. But White Hart Lane may be below his expectations now he has shown consistent brilliance in the Premier League.
Bigger Fish to Fry
Arsenal and Manchester United would be considerably more lucrative options for the 25-year-old, who has been with the Saints since 2008 after moving there from boyhood club Strasbourg while still a raw teenager.
Van Gaal has reportedly earmarked Schneiderlin as the possible replacement for current holding midfield talisman Michael Carrick. The Red Devils’ poor start to the season has been partly attributed to the England international’s absence through injury and his return coincided with an upturn in form.
Carrick and Schneiderlin occupy similar positions on the pitch and both have been crucial to the success of their respective sides. The latter is one of the best destructive defensive midfielders in the Premier League, yet has a passing range to match – though it would be a stretch to claim his distribution is at the level of the Manchester United man.
Arsenal’s woes in defensive midfield have been an issue for some time now and the current occupants of the role are arguably not at the standard required for a club expecting to challenge for titles. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta are the first choices in that area, but both have failed to live up to the task so far this season.
Arteta is still an important part of the way the Gunners play, but Wenger has been deprived of his services for some time due to an ongoing calf problem. Meanwhile, Flamini looks a shadow of his former self and the way he has dropped off physically from last season is alarming.
Schneiderlin would be an ideal addition to the Arsenal squad, as he combines the tenacity in defence of Flamini and can pass to a standard similar to Arteta.
Francis Coquelin has been an unexpected success since filling in for injured players, but the fact he was recalled from a loan at Charlton Atheltic as an emergency says it all about where he figures in Wenger’s long-term plans.