Could Bastian Schweinsteiger be on his way out of Bayern Munich? The thought is an absurd one, but with the midfielder sent home from the club’s Italian training camp so he can fully recover from injury, and manager Pep Guardiola’s comments on his interest in Thiago Alcantara, it could be a case of no more room at the inn for the German.
Schweinsteiger has been a mainstay of the Bavarian side’s midfield ever since he burst onto the scene in in 2002 when he featured as an 18-year-old in Munich’s league and cup double. Having sorted out his somewhat rebel behaviour off the field, he matured into one of the leading midfielders in the world.
But he could yet find his future at the Champions League winners into doubt, especially following Guardiola’s interest in bringing Thiago to the club, having coached him at Barcelona during his reign as manager.
Should he secure the signing of Thiago, the German club’s midfielder count would increase to 10, with Toni Kroos, Javi Martinez, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri and new signing Mario Gotze just a selection of names that are on the club's books.
Despite the five man attacking midfield they play, the equation is simple; 10 into five doesn’t go. Schweinsteiger may well find himself down the pecking order, and it could lead to him moving on for the club he signed for as an academy youngster.
So where could he go?
Manchester United have been linked in the past with a move for Schweinsteiger, and should Guardiola beat David Moyes to the signing of Thiago, they could very well make a move for the Germany international.
Their rivals Manchester City have already signed Fernandinho to play in the centre role, and a move for Schweinsteiger would deem the signing of the Braziliam pointless.
Real Madrid would also be interested, with doubts surrounding Xabi Alonso’s future after he refused to sign a new contract. He has since denied that he will be moving to Chelsea to follow his former boss Jose Mourinho, and has also snubbed Liverpool though a return to Anfield could still happen in the future.
Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund could return the favour after Munich snatched Gotze from them before they met in the Champions League final, though they have just confirmed the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the Armenian scoring on his debut in the pre-season win over Basel.
And with Chelsea appearing to be in hot pursuit of Daniele De Rossi, a move to London would seem very unlikely, though Spurs could be interested in the 28-year-old. A move may be hindered with Tottenham missing out on the Champions League though, as Schweinsteiger would hold significant power over a move having won the competition last year.
His options seem slightly limited by current transfer activity, with United appearing to be the strongest contender should his availability come up, though you can never rule out money-rich French sides Paris St-Germain and Monaco.
But as it stands, he is still a key figure of the Bundesliga champions. Only time will tell whether a move will mature, but it is worth keeping an eye on as Guardiola starts to add his touch to the European champions.