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Bastian Schweinsteiger: Why Man Utd cannot expect free run at Bayern Munich hero

COMMENT: Bayern Munich and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Are they REALLY going to let him leave?

He's just joined the 500-club, completed his 13th season with Bayern and won his eighth Bundesliga title. But Schweinsteiger just doesn't appear to be in Pep Guardiola's plans.

On Friday, the Bayern coach walked back comments made earlier in the week that his vice-captain was free to go at season's end.

"Bastian Schweinsteiger is an outstanding legend of Bayern Munich, he has to decide - not Pep nor Rummenigge. If he wants to stay two, three or four years here, he can do that," insisted Guardiola after sparking controversy over his previous remarks.

But there was no "we need Schweini" from Guardiola and despite similar claims from chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, they're still dragging their feet over a new contract.

While teammates Phlipp Lahm and Thomas Muller have extended their deals, Schweinsteiger has been left hanging.

"He's a veteran here at the club, has spent his entire career here," Rummenigge stated a fortnight ago. "We will now play the last games and then make a decision."

Not exactly remarks to fill Schweinsteiger with confidence.

And that's even if he wants to stay. Going into last week's round, Schweinsteiger had managed just 27 appearances from a possible 51 this season under Guardiola - with the majority of those played away from his favoured position.

Didi Hamann, the former Bayern and Liverpool midfielder, is convinced Schweinsteiger's gone. He claims Xabi Alonso, so comfortable in the holding role Guardiola seeks from his main midfielder, has won his personal battle with the German.

Enter Louis van Gaal and Manchester United.

If Schweinsteiger does see the writing on the wall, it's assumed he'll seek a reunion with Van Gaal at Old Trafford. The pair enjoyed a good relationship during Van Gaal's two years in charge in Munich. And the United manager made it clear, just this week, that a new "number six" was a priority for this summer's transfer window.

The German has long been linked with Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson was always a big fan and made an attempt for Schweinsteiger after Paul Scholes announced his initial retirement four years ago. You can envision the mobile Ander Herrera working off Schweinsteiger as he sits in front of the United back four. Like Michael Carrick, he'd work as Van Gaal's quarterback, though with more mobility. Certainly more than the one-paced Daley Blind.

But United cannot expect a clear run at the midfielder.

At Arsenal, where Arsene Wenger has focused the club's scouting on the German transfer market, the availability of Schweinsteiger won't be ignored.

Schweinsteiger would offer the Gunners midfield the steel and bite they've lacked in recent years. Francois Coquelin has been an impressive story this season, but he's not in the class of Schweinsteiger. To have the German sitting in front of his back four, pulling the strings for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez, could be the difference between a top four finish and a Premier League title for Wenger.

What's more, at 30 years of age, he won't present a long-term threat to Coquelin, or U21 prospects Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem.

Manchester City would certainly throw their hat in the ring. With James Milner set to walk out on a Bosman next week and Yaya Toure's commitment also wavering, that's a lot of experience and quality City's midfield is about to lose. Adding Schweinsteiger would go some way to offsetting such a loss.

Since Gareth Barry's departure, City have failed to find that ideal midfield lynchpin. Fernandinho and Fernando both struggled this season, Javi Garcia was offloaded and Jack Rodwell never made the grade. Schweinsteiger would be a solution.

He knows the rumour mill is cranking up - and all about the United links.

"I'm glad you asked," he smiled to a reporter when asked on Saturday about the United speculation, "but I won't comment.

"I am under contract until 2016."

Bayern won their final game 2-0 against Mainz on Saturday. The final goalscorer of the season? Bastian Schweinsteiger. Not a bad way to sign off after 13 years.

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