Former Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Ballack believes that Bastian Schweinsteiger was past his prime by the time he arrived at Manchester United.
The German arrived at Old Trafford in July 2015, prompting widespread excitement amongst supporters, but only managed 18 Premier League appearances in what was an injury-hampered debut season in England.
He was then frozen out of the first team altogether by Mourinho over the summer; his only start of the season so far came against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup fourth round.
And Ballack, when asked about his former Bayern and Germany teammate, noted that Schweinsteiger arrived in England during the twilight stages of his career.
“When the transfer happened, he already was past his prime, because of injuries as well,” he said. “I am not that surprised by this development.
“The Premier League is a different kind of league, in terms of physicality. He has a difficult time with the manager but the fans and the club love him. I hope he’ll be able to close this chapter feeling satisfied.”
Mourinho brought Ballack to Chelsea in 2006 for the exact reason why he immediately ostracised Schweinsteiger last year: he has always placed emphasis on indefatigable power in midfield, opting for players capable of maintaining a furious intensity over a long period of time.
This is what Ballack, following a strong World Cup with Germany, promised to offer; but Schweinsteiger, returning to Old Trafford after another semi-final defeat at a major tournament for Die Mannschaft, couldn’t offer the same.
His style has always been one of patience and technique as opposed to grit and desire. And the 32-year-old’s growing lack of energy and proneness to injury has only compounded his unslightliness in the eyes of Mourinho this season.