Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed that he had to convince the club's board to sign Bastian Schweinsteiger in the summer of 2015. The World Cup-winning midfielder arrived at Old Trafford on a three-year deal in July after spending almost two decades at Bayern Munich, becoming the most experienced addition of a high-profile recruitment drive that also included the signings of Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Martial.
Schweinsteiger, whose glittering career CV features eight Bundesliga titles and seven German Cups in addition to one Champions League crown, has been restricted to 21 starts in all competitions for his new club to date. The 31-year-old sustained a knee injury during his last appearance in the narrow FA Cup third-round victory against Sheffield United on 3 January and has now been afforded a short break in order to fully recover and alter his mindset ahead of a potential return.
"Bastian has been unlucky because he picked up an injury at a time that he was playing very well – he was improving," Van Gaal told the club's official website. "However, during December I said that I expect more and he was very disappointed I said that, but I think I can say that because my expectation is higher."
Although supporters greeted Schweinsteiger's arrival with understandable enthusiasm, it sounds very much as if there were members of the United hierarchy who held reservations about such a deal due to his advancing years.
However, it appears that Van Gaal eventually managed to convince them that it would be a sensible move for the club as they seek to re-establish themselves as Premier League title contenders.
"Manchester United has bought him even though he is now 31, so I had to convince the board to buy him, because he's a very good player and he always gives a team more balance," he added.
"He played very well at Wolfsburg and then began to reach the level he showed at Munich – I think he can [get back to it]."
United were initially believed to have paid in the region of £14.4m ($20.7m) to secure the services of Schweinsteiger. However, a subsequent statement from TSV 1860 Rosenheim, the club with whom he spent six years as a youngster before joining Bayern's youth academy, claimed that the transfer was actually worth as little as €9m.