I guess it's hot stove season, eh?
Word comes today- courtesy of the suffocating soccer media environment that is Manchester, England - that Chicago Fire head coach Velko Paunovic spent four hours having lunch with 32-year-old Germany and Bayern Munich legend Bastian Schweinsteiger. So protracted were their discussions that the Express got a photographer there in time to capture Paunovic and Schweinsteiger leaving a couple minutes apart, like married lovers on an assignation.
Schweinsteiger's situation is almost unique - a bona fide Bayern Munich legend, he was deemed surplus to requirements at only 30 after captaining the Bundesliga giants for years and moved on to Manchester United. His time at United was never comfortable, and he found himself on the bench for the first time since he was a teenager. New Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho has made it clear that Schweinsteiger has no place in his plans, exiling the onetime Mannschaft and die Roten captain to train with the academy.
Enter MLS, and the Fire. After a record-setting second consecutive MLS Wooden Spoon, the Men in Red (Ger: die Roten) are apparently putting their best foot forward to recruit the midfielder to the Windy City. Other MLS clubs are said to be interested.
Hot (Time) take
Schweinsteiger would answer an incredible number of questions on and off the field for the Chicago Fire - leader, playmaker, football mind, winner; he's the whole package. Pairing Matt Polster's enthusiasm and energy with Schweinsteiger's elegant mentorship could be a truly elite central midfield package in this league.
The questions around this are two-fold - one about Schweini, one about the Maquina Roja. Bastian is only 32, but was left out of van Gaal's United teams because of poor form and a series of physical challenges. Is it possible that Schweinsteiger is simply physically unsuited to top-flight football at this point? That said, unless he's actually failing physicals, it's hard to believe that he'd be a detriment to the Fire midfield.
Most of the questions surround the Fire's ability to land a target of this magnitude. MLS rules make it impossible for the Men in Red to guarantee that the former German captain would come their way - whatever ground Paunovic, Rodriguez et al make with Schweinsteiger, they're just $50,000 of allocation money or so away from seeing him sign for whichever glamour team wants him.
Bastian has said that he'd like to play in a big coastal city - who'd like to bet that the Galaxy wouldn't put the knife in to replace Gerrard this winter? Yeah, me neither.