Michael Ballack has urged his former teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger to retire from international football. The 31-year-old midfielder was part of the Germany side that was eliminated from Euro 2016 by France in the semi-finals and Ballack thinks it is time Schweinsteiger walked away from the national team.
Returning from injury, Schweinsteiger captained Germany during their Euro 2016 campaign – which ended in defeat to the French in Marseilles. But Ballack thinks now is the perfect time for Ballack to retire from international football, especially as he faces stiff competition to win a place in the new-look Manchester United side under Jose Mourinho.
"I know that he [Schweinsteiger] is brutally ambitious," Ballack wrote of the United man in a column for Germany's Express. "But, when you've seen him in the past two years, you also have to honestly say that I'm worried about his physical condition after his many injuries.
"It will be difficult enough for him to prevail at Manchester [United] against the sporting competition. That's why I don't know whether he'd do himself a favour by naming the 2018 World Cup in Russia as his next personal goal. I'd advise him to consider this step carefully. He could land in a vortex."
Ballack warned the United midfielder that if he continues to play for Germany, he risks damaging his hard-earned reputation. "Other players could use this situation to question his status in the team," Ballack said of the injury-prone player who joined United in 2015. "Schweinsteiger does not deserve that.
"He sadly missed [out on winning] the Euro, and on top of that he made a stupid handball. But that doesn't diminish his career. He won the 2014 World Cup for Germany. He achieved outstanding things for football. He could leave now through the front door with his head held high."
Last month, meanwhile, Germany boss Joachim Low revealed Schweinsteiger will speak to Mourinho about his future after Euro 2016. "At this point, it does not interest me," he previously told Bild. "Bastian will clarify his situation with his new coach after the European Championships. To me, he appears to be very relaxed."