Bastian Schweinsteiger leaving Bayern Munich? Yeah, right. I suppose you also think that Iker Casillas won’t end his career at Real Madrid.
Bizarrely, considering the size of the country, Schweinsteiger will be the first German to play for Manchester United, according to the Independent.
It’s smart recognition from United boss Louis van Gaal that sure, you can spend tens of millions of dollars assembling a roster of technically-brilliant flair players, but all that creative genius is ultimately meaningless unless you’ve got a selfless and indefatigable midfield terrier who can run around fouling people. After all, the great United sides of the mid-1990s to early 2000s were powered by the energy and fury of Roy Keane, the sporting equivalent of an erupting volcano. Only more violent. That Bayern was willing to sell an icon to a European rival implies that it thinks Schweinsteiger is past his peak, but he’s only 30 and was arguably the best player in last year’s World Cup final.
Here is Schweini wearing headphones on the plane to Manchester, very possibly getting into the spirit of his new city by listening to Oasis, the Smiths or the Stone Roses.
As he talked excitedly about a new challenge, things were a little different down in Madrid as another one-club man became a two-club man. And cried.
You could try telling Casillas about the benefits of being first-choice goalkeeper at FC Porto, about the club’s beautiful stadium, how it’s perennial Portuguese league title contenders and Champions League qualifiers, about how Porto is one of the Iberian peninsula’s most beguiling cities. But to judge from the tone of his farewell, he’s not buying it.
Real Madrid basically shoved the 34-year-old out the door in a Sunday press conference that might as well have been advertised as “goodbye to a guy that outstayed his welcome.” It was only slightly less awkward than the moment when you’re in a restaurant and you realize all the other customers have left, all the chairs have been stacked on the other tables, and the staff has been staring at you for the past 20 minutes.
It was so bad that Madrid evidently felt obliged to hold another valedictory press call on Monday, in which Casillas smiled as he posed in front of all the trophies he won’t be winning in Portugal. And fans called for the head of president Florentino Pérez.
A vaguely happy ending for one big-club legend, then, while Schweinsteiger looked forward to a happy beginning.