All-action hero

Bastian Schweinsteiger is currently dating Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic.-GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United has signed Bastian Schweinsteiger for GBP14.4 million. This could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer. By Christopher Coates.

Of all the new arrivals in the English Premier League this season, few can come close to matching the resume of Manchester United’s new recruit Bastian Schweinsteiger.

It remains to be seen whether his best days are behind him, but the Germany international undoubtedly adds class to a midfield that was lacking in quality last season.

It has been suggested that the 31-year-old was allowed to leave Bayern Munich due to his persistent injury problems, hence the GBP14.4 million fee as he signed a three-year deal with the Red Devils.

That could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer though if he can prove the doubters wrong, as he looks to add more silverware to what is already a substantial collection, having won eight Bundesliga titles, seven German Cups and one Champions League.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner may never have pursued a football career as he was also a talented ski racer. He was forced to choose between skiing and football and it is fair to say he made the right decision.

A one-club man until his move to United, Schweinsteiger made 500 appearances for Bayern since signing for their youth team in 1998. He joined as a 14-year-old from TSV Rosenheim and quickly established himself as an exciting, albeit rebellious, prospect as he worked his way through the youth teams.

He made his first professional Bayern appearance when he came on as a late substitute in November 2002 in a UEFA Champions League game against RC Lens. He could not have made a better first impression, setting up a goal for Markus Feulner within minutes of coming on.

Schweinsteiger signed a professional contract in December 2002 and went on to make a further 14 appearances for Bayern in the 2002/3 season.

Over the following years, Schweinsteiger established himself as a regular starter for the German giants. In 2010 he signed a new six-year contract, then under current Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, who said: “It’s a very good sign that we managed to keep this world-class player at our club.”

The peak of Schweinsteiger’s club career was the 2012/13 season, when Bayern secured the treble. He played 45 games under new boss Pep Guardiola and scored nine goals as Bayern secured the Bundesliga title, DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League. He was given the German Player of the Year award in 2013 for his consistent performances throughout the season.

In his final season at Bayern, Schweinsteiger struggled with injury problems and made only 28 appearances, the lowest since 2002/3. Fittingly, he scored on what would turn out to be his final appearance in a 2-0 win over FSV Mainz in May.

It was not just at club level that Schweinsteiger was making an impression from a young age. He represented Germany at under-16, 18, 19 and 21 levels before making his senior debut at the European Championship in 2004. Then aged 20, Schweinsteiger received high praise for his performances, including providing an assist for Michael Ballack against the Czech Republic.

Schweinsteiger went on to become a regular in Germany’s starting line-up and represented them at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups as well as the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

The high point of his career was last year when he helped Germany conquer the South American giants of Brazil and Argentina to lift the World Cup. Schweinsteiger started the final against Argentina after making substitute appearances against Ghana and Sweden, when he won his 100th cap. He produced a sparkling performance in Germany’s 1-0 victory, helping to nullify the threat of Lionel Messi as well as instigating attacks.

Having won more than a century of caps, Schweinsteiger has now been given the captaincy of his country, following Philipp Lahm’s retirement, suggesting boss Joachim Low believes the midfielder still has plenty to offer at the highest level. Van Gaal clearly agrees after taking his former player to Old Trafford last month, while Schweinsteiger admitted United were the only club he would have left Bayern to join.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bayern Munich,” he said. “It has been an incredible journey and I didn’t take the decision to leave lightly."

Van Gaal added: “There is no doubting his talent and his ability to control games. He brings a wealth of experience and is an excellent addition to our squad.”

He looks set to become the first ever German to figure in United’s first team and must now prove that his body can cope with the demands of English football.

FACTFILE Name: Bastian Schweinsteiger Country: Germany Position: Midfielder Club: Manchester United D.O.B: 1/8/1984 International caps: 111 International goals: 23

Moment to remember: Winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany.

Moment to forget: Being sent off for lashing out after a challenge from Jerko Loko in a match against Croatia in EURO 2008.

© PA Sport