Bastian Schweinsteiger recently claimed that Manchester United would be his last club in Europe, but as the transfer deadline approaches the Germany international faces the prospect of going back on his word.
The 32-year-old has been told by Jose Mourinho that he has no part to play in his senior squad this season. Not only has the Special One told Schweinsteiger he won't be playing, he has also asked him to move out of the senior dressing room and in with the youth players.
It is no way to treat a man with 120 international caps, a host of Bundesliga titles and even a World Cup to his name, but Mourinho has never let past glories stand in his way before.
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But ridding themselves of the former Bayern Munich star just 12 months into a lucrative three-year contract has proved just as hard as it sounds. Schweinsteiger was offered a deal worth in excess of £200,000-a-week by Louis van Gaal, of which few clubs could hope to match.
Manchester United have attempted to inspire interest by offering to release Schweinsteiger on a free transfer and, according to The Mirror, appear to have got a bite in the form of Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon.
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They have been given permission by the Red Devils to start contract talks but there is some doubt as to whether Schweinsteiger has any interest in listening. To make matters tenser, Sporting have just over 24 hours to get the deal done.
While he will need to take a sizeable pay cut to make the move, Schweinsteiger's alternative option is not an attractive one. He faces a season in the reserves at Manchester United and there is reason to believe the money means nothing to him. He and his wife, tennis player Ana Ivanovic, have a joint fortune of over £50m, a hefty retirement fund by anyone's standards.
A season in the wilderness at Manchester United may be exactly what is on the cards, especially if Schweinsteiger's words on Tuesday were anything to go by. He said he still dreams of playing at Old Trafford again and seems confident of forcing his way back into Mourinho's plans.
He told reporters: “My wish would be to continue playing for Manchester United. I have no personal problems with Jose Mourinho. One thing is for sure: I’m not going to stop playing football. I still believe in my own ability. I could still help Man United if given the chance.”
Manchester United's willingness to forgo a transfer fee appears to suggest a certain urgency to cut the wage bill by executive Ed Woodward. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba all arriving in the summer, as much as £1m-a-week may have been added to their costs.
Spending almost a quarter of that on a player Mourinho refuses to use doesn't make financial sense for even the richest club in the world.
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