Premier League: Everton close in on second January signing

The Toffees are close to boosting their numbers once again with a second acquisition in the January transfer window in the space of a week.

Eager: Koeman publically demanded action from the club’s owners in the transfer market after last weekend’s FA Cup defeat by Leicester (Picture from Sky Sports)

Everton are edging closer to completing their second signing of the January transfer window.

The Toffees have already captured the signature of promising teenage forward Ademola Lookman, 19, for £11 million from League One side Charlton Athletic.

And boss Ronald Koeman is set to bolster his midfield ranks in the form of Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has reportedly undergone a medical ahead of a £22 million move.

The highly-rated Frenchman has found opportunities at Old Trafford hard to come by since his £25 million move from Southampton – where he previously played under Koeman – in the summer of 2015.

Rejection: United turned down a bid from West Bromwich Albion for Schneiderlin, who has been unable to oust first-team regulars in the Reds’ engine room (Picture from Sky Sports)

Speaking in his press conference after United’s 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Hull City on Tuesday, Mourinho said of Schneiderlin’s imminent departure: “I’m sad and I’m happy. I’m sad because I like him and he could be an option for us in a long season.

“I’m happy because this is what he wants, he wants to play every game and wants to be an important player in the team.

“If this is what he wants I’m happy for a very good professional and someone that I can only say good things about.”

Schneiderlin made 39 appearances in his first season with the Reds under Louis van Gaal but has only made three starts and five substitute appearances this term under Mourinho.

He would still have stiff competition, however, should he make the switch to Goodison Park – battling for a starting berth with Ross Barkley, Idrissa Gueye, James McCarthy, Tom Cleverley and Gareth Barry.

Everton are currently seventh in the Premier League, with 30 points from 20 games, but 12 points adrift of the top four.

Euro 2016: Referee Clattenburg handed France v Portugal final

England’s Mark Clattenburg will complete an unprecedented refereeing treble in Paris on Sunday.

Mark Clattenburg referee
Much-fancied: Clattenburg (middle) was widely considered as the favourite to officiate the final for his fine performances throughout the tournbament (Picture from BBC)

ENGLISH referee Mark Clattenburg will take charge of the Euro 2016 Final between France and Portugal, Uefa has confirmed.

The 41-year-old has been appointed as the referee on Sunday when the host nation contest the showpiece against the Euro 2004 runners-up at the Stade de France in Paris (KO 20:00 BST).

Clattenburg – who regularly officiates high-profile Premier League games – completes an unlikely and remarkable treble in the space of two months after handling the FA Cup and Champions League finals respectively.

He received a mixture of praise and criticism for his displays in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Wembley on May 21 and Real Madrid’s penalty shootout win over Atletico Madrid in Milan a week later.

It’s undoubtedly the biggest assignment and honour of his 26-year career to date, as he becomes only the third Englishman to referee the final of a European Championship.

However, the recognition is fully deserved for the Newcastle-based whistler, who has performed to a high standard so far in his three games at the tournament – his first major international finals as a referee.

Clattenburg – who was an additional assistant referee as part of Howard Webb’s team of officials at Euro 2012 – put in one of the best refereeing displays of Euro 2016 in Italy’s 2-0 win over Belgium.

He also dealt with a difficult situation well in the Czech Republic’s 2-2 draw with Croatia, when flares were thrown onto the pitch amid unsavoury scenes in the crowd.

The County Durham-born official has not been on the pitch since June 25 when he oversaw Poland’s victory over Switzerland on penalties in the first match of the knockout stages.

He was also the fourth official for Iceland’s 2-1 win over Austria in the group stages – his only previous trip to the Stade de France.

Mark Clattenburg referee (Southampton v West Ham - 6th Feb 2016)
Experienced: Clattenburg has been refereeing in the Premier League since 2004 and been on the Fifa list since 2006 (Picture from Sky Sports)

During the tournament, Clattenburg has dished out 13 yellow cards and awarded one penalty – which allowed the Czechs to level late on against Croatia – but he is yet to send off a player.

He was one of three British referees chosen among the 18 whistlers for the tournament but Scotland’s Willie Collum went home after overseeing two group games and England’s Martin Atkinson followed after his third match – Wales’ 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in the last 16.

Clattenburg follows in the footsteps of retired English colleague Webb, who took charge of the Champions League Final in 2010 before going on to receive the ultimate honour of refereeing the World Cup Final in South Africa two months later.

He will be ably assisted again in the French capital by linesmen Simon Beck and Jake Collin, and additional assistants Anthony Taylor and Andre Marriner.

It also means Taylor has completed an unprecedented quadruple of being the only additional assistant referee to officiate at all four of Uefa’s major finals – Champions League, Europa League, Euros and Super Cup.

The fourth official will be Hungary’s Viktor Kassai – who handled the tournament opener and was also fourth official for May’s Champions League Final – while fellow countryman Gyorgy Ring will be on standby as the reserve assistant.

Clattenburg and Eder
Third in line: Arthur Ellis in 1960 and Arthur Holland four years later are the only other English referees to have handled a European Championship final (Picture from BBC)

Clattenburg is hugely supported and highly rated by Uefa’s head of referees Pierluigi Collina but is thought to be largely out of favour with the English Football Association, who don’t think he is the country’s leading official.

But David Elleray, the FA Referees’ Committee chairman, believes the appointment is deserved and his “astonishing” achievements highlight that England is the number one country in international refereeing terms.

He said: “One of the reasons that English referees are appointed to the world’s major finals is that they work as part of a very strong referee team – no referee can be successful without top quality assistants and, for Uefa competitions, additional assistant referees.

“I am sure everyone in football will wish Mark and his team every success on Sunday – I am sure they will perform in a way which enhances the final.”

The trained electrician – who supports Newcastle United – has a wealth of experience of high-profile encounters having refereed the 2012 League Cup Final, 2012 Olympic men’s football gold medal match, 2013 Community Shield and 2014 Uefa Super Cup.

The only potential obstacles preventing Clattenburg from being appointed was England – who were dumped out by minnows Iceland in the last 16 – and Wales.

He appears to have beaten off competition from Kassai, Milorad Mazic of Serbia, and Slovenia’s Damir Skomina – the only other referees remaining at the tournament who did not receive a semi-final.

Clattenburg is the second referee in succession to have handled the Champions League and Euros finals in the same year, after Portugal’s Pedro Proenca in 2012.

Didier Deschamps’ France stunned world champions Germany 2-0 on Thursday to reach the final while Portugal beat Wales by the same scoreline the day before.

The game in Saint-Denis will be broadcast to a global audience of millions of viewers live on BBC One and ITV.

Euro 2016: Damir Skomina to oversee Switzerland v France

Slovenia’s Damir Skomina will be in the middle for Switzerland against France in Lille and Pavel Kralovec of Czech Republic is in charge of Sunday’s other Group A game Romania v Albania.

Damir Skomina referee
Return to the big stage: Skomina handled three games at Euro 2012 but wasn’t selected for the 2014 World Cup (Picture from BBC Sport)

SLOVENIA referee Damir Skomina will take charge of France’s final Euro 2016 group game against Switzerland on Sunday.

The 39-year-old, from Koper, will handle the host nation’s Group A contest with their fierce rivals in Lille (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC One).

He will be ably assisted at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy by Jure Praprotnik and Robert Vukan, and additional assistants Slavko Vincic and Matej Jug.

Germany’s Marco Fritz is the fourth official and fellow countryman Mark Borsch is the reserve official on standby.

Skomina only issued one yellow card and put in a confident performance in Slovakia’s 2-1 win over Russia in Group B on Wednesday – his first game of the tournament.

He was in the middle for Denmark’s 1-0 win over Holland, England’s 3-2 success against Sweden and Germany’s 4-2 quarter-final victory over Greece at the European Championship four years ago.

Didier Deschamps’ France have already secured a last 16 berth after late victories over Romania and Albania, while Switzerland have taken four points from their first two games against the same opponents.

Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic) for Belgium v Wales 16th Nov 2014
Different role: Kralovec was the fourth official for three games at Euro 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Meanwhile, Czech referee Pavel Kralovec will be in charge of the other Group A encounter between Romania and Albania in Lyon.

The 38-year-old has been appointed to his second game of the tournament when the two sides meet at the Olympique Lyonnais (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC Four).

Kralovec had an eventful match at the same stadium on Thursday during Northern Ireland’s historic 2-0 triumph over Ukraine – his first match at a major international tournament.

He gave out four yellow cards but had to halt proceedings and lead the players off the pitch for two minutes in the second half because of a hail storm.

The engineer, born in Czechoslovakia, has been on the Fifa list for more than a decade.

Kralovec will be assisted by Roman Slyško and Tomáš Mokrusch, and additional assistants Petr Ardeleánu and Michal Paták.

Greece’s Anastasios Sidiropoulos will be the fourth official, with compatriot Damianos Efthymiadis is the reserve assistant.

Romania lost 2-1 to the host nation in the tournament opener before drawing 1-1 with Switzerland, while Albania lost 1-0 to the Swiss with 10 men and conceded two goals late on in their 2-0 defeat by France.

Referee Willie Collum set for first Euro 2016 outing

Scottish whistler Willie Collum will oversee France’s second Euro 2016 game against Albania in Group A while Slovenia’s Damir Skomina and Sergei Karasev of Russia receive their first matches of the tournament.

Willie Collum blows for full-time (Uefa Super Cup - 11th August 2015)
Experience: Collum has been on the Fifa list since 2006 and was elevated to Uefa Elite Category level in June 2012 (Picture from BT Sport)

SCOTTISH referee Willie Collum has received his first appointment as man in the middle at Euro 2016. 

The 37-year-old will take charge of host nation France’s second Group A match against Albania in Marseille on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Collum was the fourth official for Sunday’s encounter in Group D between Turkey and Croatia in Paris.

But it will be a different pressure at the Stade Velodrome for the Religious Education teacher from Belshill, north Lanarkshire.

Craig Thomson was Scotland’s representative at Euro 2012 but Collum has since overtaken him as the country’s leading official and is highly regarded by Uefa.

He has handled some prestigious friendlies involving top nations, a number of high-profile Champions League games and was selected for last season’s memorable Super Cup clash between Barcelona and Sevilla.

His excellent form on the continent led to his first call-up for a major international tournament but endured a difficult domestic season in the build-up to the European Championships.

Willie Collum referee (Motherwell v Celtic - 9th April 2016)
Proud: Collum described his selection as one of 18 referees for Euro 2016 as ‘the highlight of my refereeing career without a doubt’ (Picture from Sky Sports)

Collum dished out a massive 148 yellow cards, sent off seven players and awarded 18 penalties in 47 matches in all competitions during 2015-16.

He is renowned for being card-happy in Scotland and received criticism from Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson and Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes in particular last term for some controversial decisions.

Ex-Hearts and Hibs midfielder Michael Stewart also claimed Collum was ‘not fit to officiate in Scotland’s top-flight’ – a division he referees in on a regular basis.

Despite being much-maligned back home, the Glasgow-born whistler has a wealth of big-game experience to draw upon including several Old Firm and Edinburgh derbies, European matches and major finals.

Among Collum’s other highlights are refereeing the 2013 and 2015 Scottish Cup Finals, the 2012 League Cup Final, 2008 U19 European Championship Final and three Scottish play-off ties.

He will be ably assisted by Irish linesmen Damien MacGraith and Scotland’s Frank Connor, while fellow countrymen John Beaton and Bobby Madden will be additional assistant referees.

England’s Michael Oliver shall be the fourth official, with compatriot Mike Mullarkey on standby as the reserve official.

After a 2-1 win over Romania in the tournament opener, Didier Deschamps’ side could seal their passage into the knockout phase by beating Albania, who lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their first match.


Damir Skomina referee (Spain v Slovakia - 5th September 2015)
Previous meeting: One of Skomina’s four Euro 2016 qualifiers was Slovakia’s 2-0 defeat by Spain last September (Picture from Sky Sports)

Slovenia’s Damir Skomina has been confirmed as the referee for the Group B clash between Russia and Slovakia in Lille on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old will be in control of the other match in England’s group at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy (KO 14:00 BST, live on ITV).

It’s the estate agent’s first involvement in this summer’s European Championships – the second major tournament of his refereeing career.

Skomina oversaw three matches at Euro 2012 – Holland’s 1-0 defeat by Denmark and England’s 3-2 win over Sweden in the group stages before Germany’s 4-2 win over Greece in the quarter-finals.

Although he wasn’t selected for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he made the cut for Euro 2016 after impressing on the European stage in the last two seasons.

The Koper-born whistler, who was a fourth official at Euro 2008 and for the 2013 Champions League Final at Wembley, has been on the Uefa Elite Category list since 2009-10 and refereed Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Benfica in 2011.

Among his other highlights were handling the 2007 U21 European Championship Final, officiating at the 2008 Olympic Games and taking charge of Chelsea’s 4-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the 2012 Super Cup.

Last season, Skomina handled Real Madrid’s 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg and Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the Europa League semi-final first leg.

He was also described as ‘weak and naive’ by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho for denying his side a penalty in their goalless draw with Dynamo Kiev last October.

Skomina – who can also speak Italian and English – regularly oversees European matches involving British teams, with his confident but no-nonsense approaching earning him many admirers.

He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Jure Prapotnik and Robert Vukan, and additional assistants Matej Jug and Slavko Vinčić.

Sweden’s Jonas Eriksson is the fourth official, with his compatriot Mathias Klasenius the reserve assistant.


Sergei Karasev ready to blow whistle (Finland v NI - 11th Oct 2015)
Last season: Karasev refereed four Champions League games including Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat at Barcelona in their quarter-final second leg (Picture from Sky Sports)

Russian referee Sergei Karasev will appear at his first major international tournament for the first time to oversee Romania’s Group A clash with Switzerland.

The 37-year-old will take charge at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Wednesday, June 15 (KO 17:00 BST, live on BBC One).

Fellow countrymen Nikolai Golubev and Tikhon Kalugin are the assistant referees and Sergey Lapochkin and Sergei Ivanov will be the additional assistants referees.

Aleksei Kulbakov, from Belarus, is the fourth official while compatriot Vitali Maliutsin completes the officiating team as reserve assistant.

Karasev has become an established name with regular Champions League and Europa League appointments since becoming a permanent fixture on the Fifa list in 2010.

The Moscow-born lawyer, who reached Uefa Elite Category level in 2012, is known for his excellent fitness levels and often lenient approach, as he boasts one of the lowest card averages among the 18 Euro 2016 referees.

Karasev will be known to Scottish football fans for his handling of Celtic’s 6-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona in 2013 and Scotland’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia during qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

One of his three Euro 2016 qualifiers was Northern Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Finland last October.

Karasev, whose birthday was on June 12, will hope to impress in his 50th international match as a referee in the hope he can prolong his stay in France ahead of his second tournament of the summer at the Olympics.

He will be one of 15 referees involved in the men’s football tournament in Rio in August.

His only previous competition experience came last summer when overseeing three games at the U21 European Championships, including the semi-final between Sweden and Denmark.

Euro 2016: Clement Turpin to referee Austria v Hungary

French referee Clement Turpin will take charge of the Euro 2016 encounter between Austria and Hungary, with Turkey’s Cuneyt Cakir in the middle for Portugal against Iceland in the other Group F match.

Clement Turpin watches on (Southampton v FC Midtjylland - 20th August 2015)
Novice: Turpin is the youngest of the 18 referees at the tournament at 34 years and a month old (Picture from BT Sport)

FRENCH referee Clement Turpin will take charge of his first Euro 2016 match on home soil on the fifth matchday.

The 34-year-old, from Montceau-les-Mines, will be in the middle for Austria against Hungary as Group F gets up and running on Tuesday, June 14, at the Stade de Bordeaux (KO 17:00 BST).

He will be assisted by compatriots Frédéric Cano and Cyril Gringore – who has replaced the injured Nicolas Danos – and additional assistants Benoit Bastien and Fredy Fautrel.

Spain’s Jesus Gil Manzano is the fourth official and his fellow countryman Roberto Alonso is the reserve official.

As well as being the youngest referee at the tournament, Turpin is the most inexperienced having only officiated 48 international games and six in the Champions League.

His only other tournament experience came last summer when he oversaw two matches as referee at the Uefa Under-21 European Championship finals in the Czech Republic.

He will, however, be one of 15 referees who will take charge of matches at the men’s Olympic football tournament in Rio in August.

The Oulins-born official, who is also a Refereeing Regional Manager, took up the whistle in 2005 and became the youngest-ever Ligue 1 referee four years later.

He then joined the Fifa list in 2010 and was promoted to the Uefa Elite Category before the start of the 2015-16 season.

Turpin handled three Champions League group games and three Europa League matches – including Liverpool’s 1-0 second-leg win over Augsburg in the last 32 – last term.


Cuneyt Cakir referee (Slovenia v Ukraine - 17th November 2015)
In the middle: Cakir oversaw six Euro 2016 qualifiers including games involving England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (Picture from Sky Sports)

EXPERIENCED Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir has been appointed to Portugal’s Group F opener against Iceland in Saint-Etienne on Tuesday.

The insurance agent, who turns 40 in November, will take charge of his first match at the tournament at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (KO 20:00 BST, live on BBC One).

He will be ably assisted by fellow countrymen Bahattin Duran and Tarik Ongun, with Hüseyin Göçek and Barış Şimşek the additional assistants.

Spain’s Carlos del Cerro Grande will be the fourth official for his second game of the tournament, while compatriot Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez is the reserve assistant.

Cakir made history last season when he became the first referee to handle consecutive Champions League semi-finals in the same campaign.

He was the first Turkish whistler to oversee the Champions League Final, receiving the honour in 2015 as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin – a year after being the fourth official for the 2014 showpiece.

Like Turpin, Cakir will also be officiating at the Olympic men’s football tournament in Rio later this summer, alongside his regular assistants Duran and Ongun.

The Istanbul-based official is taking part in his third successive major international tournament.

He handled three games at Euro 2012, including Portugal’s semi-final defeat to Spain on penalties in which he booked nine players, and was the fourth official to Pedro Proenca for the Kiev final.

Cakir also refereed three matches at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, culminating in another excellent semi-final showing in Argentina’s win over Holland on penalties.

He was also in charge of 2012 Fifa Club World Cup Final, controversially sending off Chelsea’s Gary Cahill in their 1-0 defeat to Corinthians in Yokohama, Japan.

Cakir first made his Uefa debut in 2003 and became an Elite Category official – allowing him to officiate regularly in the Champions League proper – in 2011.

Cuneyt Cakir prepares to blow whistle (CL Final - 6th June 2015)
Regard: Cakir is always considered for high-profile games and is a contender to officiate the Euro 2016 Final (Picture from Sky Sports)

ANALYSIS: What Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger offer to United

Following the impressive double capture of midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, Adam Higgins explores what they bring to Manchester United and how they can fit into the team.

Morgan Schneiderlin (Saints midfielder v Man Utd - 11th Jan 2015)
Victorious: Schneiderlin was part of the Saints team that won at Old Trafford in the Premier League last season (Picture from Sky Sports)

It’s an ongoing conundrum that has arguably existed at the heart of the Manchester United engine room since captain Roy Keane left Old Trafford a decade ago.  

In recent years, they have turned to versatile defenders, lesser-known foreigners, an injury-prone Owen Hargreaves and even brought Paul Scholes out of retirement in an attempt to find a quick fix.

But have the Red Devils finally discovered a solution of sorts by landing Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin?

The confirmation of the combined £39.9 million swoop came in the nick of time to allow both players to board the plane for their pre-season tour to the United States, where United fans will get their first glimpse of the club’s latest recruits.

Many supporters have been desperate to see quality over quantity in the middle of the park, a position which has often been overcrowded with too many similar options. However, they may now be satisfied in both areas.

In 2015, the high-profile acquisition of Argentina’s Angel di Maria for a record fee followed the signings of Spaniards Juan Mata and Ander Herrera while the versatile Dutchman Daley Blind offered a more defensive alternative.

Even after last year’s arrivals, there has been an overriding sense that the midfield jigsaw is still incomplete in comparison to the strength of their rivals – something Louis van Gaal has evidently been working hard to address behind the scenes.

In the shape of experienced German international Schweinsteiger and the combative French anchorman Schneiderlin, United have added extra power, strength, depth and technical ability to their number – albeit without a necessary guarantee of goals.

The pair scored nine league goals between them, an above average tally throughout their careers, but their fundamental roles are to provide the craft, solidity and protection to the defence which is frequently understated in a team.

Both played an integral part for their nations at the 2014 World Cup with Schweinsteiger starring for 120 minutes in the final and picking up a winners medal before later being announced as Phillip Lahm’s replacement for the new Germany captain.

He may have progressed beyond his peak years but still has plenty to offer as he embarks on an exciting venture which is likely to be the final chapter in his distinguished career in what is widely regarded as the most competitive league in world football.

After 13 successful trophy-laden seasons at the top of the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, a fresh challenge was needed and, in his own words, there was only one he would accept.

Schweinsteiger’s familiarity to van Gaal from his two-year spell at the Allianz Arena is an advantage and, although his ability to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League and stay injury free is yet unknown, one of the biggest gains to United is his nous in the dressing room with van Gaal describing the 30-year-old as “the ultimate professional”.

It was van Gaal who transformed Schweinsteiger from a winger into a central midfielder at Munich and he is now responsible for, remarkably, making him the first German ever to play for United.

The main provision Schweinsteiger could bring is posing a selection dilemma in the so-called big games, possibly working alongside Michael Carrick in front of the back four, and utilising his experience of tactical awareness and positioning to allow the forward-thinking players the license to hurt the opposition.

Bastian Schweinsteiger sent off at Old Trafford (v Man Utd Champs Lge April 2014)
Eventful: Schweinsteiger scored and was sent off on his last Old Trafford visit in the Champions League quarter-finals in April 2014

As demonstrated against English sides in the Champions League in the past, he can dictate the tempo of tight matches by maintaining possession and finding the elusive pass in between the lines which can prove to be the difference in the final third.

Even the marquee signing of an established world-class player alone can have a huge influence without them kicking a ball by inspiring the current squad to step up a gear and enhance their performance levels.

The presence of Schweinsteiger will bring additional, and always welcome, competition for places among the central midfielders, who are often the subject of criticism from the United faithful for inconsistency and lacking in certain areas such as a goalscoring threat or being too conservative.

In doing so, he can assist other younger players in his position such as Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard to grow in confidence and pass on his breadth of knowledge to help them improve. For £14 million, United have a complete and proven player, who is still near to his best, for a bargain price.

The only significant gamble involved in the move is his continuing fitness battle which has rumbled on over the last five seasons, something which could have been eased amid the high intensity of the English top-flight had he decided to retire from international duty after the blaze of glory in Brazil.

In Schneiderlin, United have arguably secured the services of the Premier League’s second-best deep lying midfielder from last season, behind Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic.

On the evidence of his mercurial and eye-catching displays, the 25-year-old will be worth every penny of the £25 million it took to tempt Southampton to sell him after an initial £20 million fee was rejected.

Although a team effort contributed towards Saints’ surprise march to a Europa League qualifying spot, Schneiderlin was at the heart of their development as he capably took on additional responsibility following the string of senior summer departures, despite being embroiled in his own transfer saga with Tottenham which eventually faded.

Having stayed loyal to the south coast club throughout their meteoric rise from League One since arriving from Strasbourg in 2008, the Frenchman grew in stature and plied his trade as he learned to adapt to different scenarios and retain discipline.

Schneiderlin’s personal statistics are testament to his work ethic, racking up the most tackles won, interceptions made and miles run on a consistent basis to endear himself to the club’s supporters, who voted him their best player in their second season back in the Premier League in 2012-13.

He is a positive bundle of energy and enthusiasm who controls matches with his dynamism, crisp passing and measured aggression, thus befitting the style and approach of a United midfielder with greater expectation and pressure on their shoulders.

It can occasionally count against him as was the case when he was sent off in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea last December for two soft fouls as a result of being too keen to close down the space and time on the ball afforded to the Blues midfield.

Anthony Taylor sends off Morgan Schneiderlin (S'ton 1-1 Chelsea - 28th Dec 2014)
Seeing red: Schneiderlin was dismissed late on against the champions at St Mary’s last season – the only red card of his Premier League career so far (Picture from BBC Sport)

One of his biggest assets, however, is his leadership and organisational skills which have been aided by him regularly standing in as Saints skipper in recent seasons and being captain of France Under-21s while his extensive understanding of the other Premier League clubs will be a massive bonus.

Schneiderlin – who said joining United was “an easy decision to make” – could be deployed in a three-man midfield, as he was on some occasions at Southampton, alongside the likes of Schweinsteiger, Carrick, Blind and Herrera. He even found himself on the Saints bench for key games last season, including Liverpool at home and Arsenal away.

Morgan Schneiderlin post-match (v Man United - 11th Jan 2015)
First impression: Schneiderlin scored his first Premier League goal against Manchester United in a 3-2 defeat at St Mary’s in September 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

It is, however, unlikely that he will be utilised in an advanced midfield berth at any stage, especially with the plethora of other talent at United’s disposal in that position. Nevertheless, it is a role that Schneiderlin has fulfilled sporadically at Saints in previous years but only when Adam Lallana or James Ward-Prowse were unavailable.

Another plus is Schneiderlin’s tender age with his peak years still in front of him in his mid-twenties and more opportunities to come in the France national team, for whom he has earned nine caps to date.

Schneiderlin’s first competitive outing for United might be in the Premier League opener against Spurs, where he would come up against a team he could have joined who is managed by former Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, who will know more than most how to nullify his effect on proceedings.

Morgan Schneiderlin positions collage
Different positions: How Schneiderlin lined up for Southampton in games against Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United last season (Pictures from Sky Sports, BT Sport and BBC Sport)

Working in tandon with the likes of Steven Davis and Victor Wanyama in a two or three-man defensive shield at St Mary’s, Schneiderlin’s industry and positional sense will stand him in good stead at Old Trafford although his lack of European experience may limit his chances of making an impact in the Champions League should United progress far in the competition.

There may have been other more high-profile midfielders that United could have targeted, particularly given their eagerly anticipated return to the European stage.

But the captures of both Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin suit the philosophy of van Gaal in recruiting ready-made experience whilst thinking of the future. Whether they can both fit into the same team and settle into life at the club is another matter.

Louis van Gaal in Old Trafford dugout (v Arsenal - 17th May 2015)
Spending spree: The Dutchman has now spent over £80 million on four signings so far during the summer transfer window (Picture from Sky Sports)

He could have dropped interest in one of them when pursuing the other yet decided to seal the deals for both, adding to the already excellent signings of Italian full-back Matteo Darmian and Dutch forward Memphis Depay.

It may also be considered to be a statement of intent, in their eyes of their fellow title contenders, as United seek to end two years without silverware and will at least answer some of the midfield issues they have been faced with for numerous years.

Man United midfield combinations 2014-15 collage
Formulae: The different Manchester United central midfield combinations throughout the 2014-15 season (Pictures from Sky Sports)
Man United possible midfield combinations 2015-16 collage
Possibilities: How Manchester United’s midfield could line up in positions and personnel in 2015-16 (Pictures from