CHICAGO, March 21 — Former Germany captain Bastian Schweinsteiger has signed for Major League Soccer side the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday.
Schweinsteiger, a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team, heads to the United States after an unhappy stint with Manchester United, where he has been frozen out by manager Jose Mourinho.
The 32-year-old could finalise his move to the United States by next week pending a visa application, the Tribune reported on its website.
“We’re adding someone who has won at every level, including the very highest levels, and has done so in a way that is consistent with our values,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez was quoted as saying.
“We as a club will now be forced to hold ourselves to a higher standard, an accountability level.
“Previously, I think we could satisfy ourselves with what is known domestically. Now we need to rise to a standard that is set more internationally.”
Schweinsteiger played his entire club career with German giant Bayern Munich before joining Manchester United in 2015.
The Tribune cited an unidentified club source as saying that Schweinsteiger had signed a one-year deal worth US$4.5 million, a salary that makes him one of the highest-paid players in the MLS.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always sought opportunities where I hoped to make a positive impact and to help make something great,” Schweinsteiger said in a statement quoted by the Tribune.
“My move to Chicago Fire is no different. Through my conversations with Nelson and (Veljko Paunovic), I’m convinced by the club’s vision and philosophy and I want to help them with this project.”
Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic said the seeds of Schweinsteiger’s move had been sown by a lunch with the German star in Manchester last year.
“The conversation was so spontaneous, so natural and so inspiring for both sides,” Paunovic said.
“At one point, it became a very personal conversation. I think that also helped for both sides to understand how we can help each other and how much value we can get from this for both sides.”
The Chicago team has endured a mixed start to the new MLS season, taking four points from their opening two games before suffering a 4-0 thumping by expansion side Atlanta last weekend.
Chicago’s lone success in the MLS Cup came in 1998 and for the past four seasons the team has failed to reach the playoffs. — AFP