Morgan Schneiderlin

Morgan Schneiderlin is a French defensive midfielder, born in Zellwiller, France on November 8th 1989. Schneiderlin began his career with RC Strasbourg. He was one of the highest rated youngsters in France for a number of years, first appearing for the under 16 French side in 2004. He has since appeared at every other level for his country. Schneiderlin made five Ligue 1 appearances for Strasbourg in 2007/08.

In the summer of 2008 Schneiderlin made the surprise move to cash strapped Championship side Southampton, after being linked to a number of other clubs, including rivals Portsmouth who were reportedly turned down by the French midfielder. The midfielder cited Southampton's excellent record with young players as the main reason for joining the club. Schneiderlin was signed to a four year contract in a deal in which the fee could eventually rise to £1.2m. Initially, there were rumours that Arsenal helped fund the deal, and he would eventually join the Gunners after gaining first team football experience with Saints for a year or two.

Schneiderlin first caught the eye of Saints fans in Claus Lundekvam's testimonial on 18th July 2008. Schneiderlin put in a very composed performance against decent opposition (Celtic). His range of passing was exceptional and he didn't look out of place with anyone on the pitch. He made his first League appearance on the opening day of the 2008/09 season in a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff. He was a key member of Jan Poortvliet's young side that initially put in some exciting performances. Schneiderlin was part of the Saints side that played so well in a 1-0 win away to Derby and then a few days later in the League Cup against Birmingham. Unfortunately this would prove to be a false dawn as the club spent the rest of the season struggling at the bottom of the table. It probably wasn't a coincidence that the clubs dip in form at the start of the season began when Schneiderlin first dropped out of the team. After he made his return his performances were inconsistent, as the club headed towards the drop. Signs were clearly there that he still had a big future though.

With Alan Pardew being appointed new manager in 2009 it was a fresh start for Schneiderlin. He was named in the starting eleven in Pardew's first competitive match at home to Millwall, where he nearly scored with an audacious chip from the half way line. After the game Pardew picked out the Frenchman as someone who he was particularly looking forward to working with. Without the pressure of a relegation struggle that season, he came on leaps and bounds and was one of the clubs star men in their charge up the League One table. Schneiderlin scored his first goal for the club in April 2010, an absolute screamer in a 5-1 at Bristol Rovers. He scored his first goal for the France under 21 side shortly after in the Toulon Tournament against Colombia

Schneiderlin continued to play an important role for Saints in 2010/11. He was unaffected by the managerial changes at the start of the season, putting on a tremendous performance in a 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday in Nigel Adkins's third game in charge. Schneiderlin did have his critics amongst the Southampton fan base, who believed that he went missing at times, but over time those doubters were soon silenced. It was often said that when Scheiderlin wasn’t playing well, the team would struggle. The youngster put in one of his best career performances in the televised FA Cup tie against Manchester United. Schneiderlin dictated the game in the first half for Southampton and was his side's best player. He did not look out of place on the pitch with the likes of Anderson and Paul Scholes, proving he had what it took to cut it at a higher level. He suffered an injury in the early stages of the March 1st match at Walsall, which kept him out for months. He returned on May 2nd 2011 as a late sub in the promotion clinching match at Plymouth, and started the final game of the season against Walsall five days later.

On 19th August 2011 Schneriderlin signed a new contract until 2014. He started 2011/12 on the bench behind Jack Cork and Dean Hammond, but still made a decent contribution. Schneiderlin sent in a beautiful chip through to Adam Lallana on August 16th, helping Saints to a 5-2 win at Ipswich. He made his first league start of the season on 10th August against Nottingham Forest. Schneiderlin scored only his second Saints goal in a 1-1 draw with Burnley on 24th September. He looked very good in important matches against Derby and West Ham in October, before becoming a regular starter in November when Richard Chaplow dropped out through injury. He would not relinquish his spot in the team for the remainder of the campaign. Schneiderlin was initially used on the right of midfield, and even just behind the striker at Doncaster on December 3rd. When Nigel Adkins moved him back into the middle he really shone. Schneiderlin was one of Southampton's most important players during the first few months of 2012. He controlled the tempo of games with a great range of passing from just in front of the back four. Displays against Derby and Ipswich were particularly impressive. He was forced off injured early on against Portsmouth on 7th April having been on the receiving end of a cynical Luke Varney challenge. Schneiderlin missed the next few weeks before returning against Middlesbrough on April 21st. He helped Saints gain promotion back to the Premier League with a stunning display in the 4-0 thumping of Coventry on April 28th.

Schneiderlin had a solid 2012/13 pre-season, but really stepped it up once the proper action got under way. He looked totally at home in the opener at Manchester City, dominating the midfield. The previously goal-shy player netted in the third game against Man United, in another commanding display. Saints struggled throughout the early months of the season, but Schneiderlin was rarely anything below decent.

The stats said it all. Schneiderlin was without doubt on one the best midfielder’s in Europe for 2012/13. He topped the charts for tackles and interceptions. One of the most tactically astute players at Staplewood improved even further when his midfield partner Jack Cork returned to the line-up. After notching in the 1-1 draw with Swansea on 10th November, Schneiderlin and Cork combined to seal a 3-1 away win at QPR. The former Strasbourg boy energised the team in victories over Newcastle and Reading. He was solid throughout December, but it was in early 2013 that Schneiderlin really caught the eye.

Schneiderlin proved his worth as a big game player on January 16th at Stamford Bridge. He absolutely ran the show that night, playing an instrumental role in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea. Schneiderlin dictated play with a fine range of passing, but was also incredibly strong defensively. His form never dipped even when Mauricio Pochettino was brought in to replace Nigel Adkins in January 2014. The Frenchman developed a fine habit of arriving in the box at just the right moment. His finely timed run at Wigan on February 2nd resulted in a goal. His display against Manchester City was impeccable. Schneiderlin had Yaya Toure and company in his pocket all evening, dictating play in the 3-1 win.

Schneiderlin scored his fourth of the season in a defeat at Newcastle on 24th February. Just over 24 hours later he committed his future to the club by signing a new deal until 2017. Schneiderlin’s previous contract was due to expire in 2014

Schneiderlin scored another important goal in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in March 2013. Against Chelsea a few weeks later he was tactically superb. He covered so much ground in nearly every game he played. His stamina and energy levels were incredible throughout. His athletic capabilities were tested in the 2-0 win over Reading and the 1-1 draw with West Ham. Schneiderlin was ever so slightly below his best during the last few weeks of the season

Schneiderlin wasn't quite as conspicuous as he had been the previous season in 2013/14, but nevertheless still played a big role in the club's success. He took a few games to adapt to fresh responsibilities alongside new midfield partner Victor Wanyama, but looked dynamic in the 21st September win at Anfield. His last ditch slide tackle on Danny Welbeck at Old Trafford capped a strong display. The Frenchman dominated the midfield against Fulham in October, but struggled slightly in the wind at Stoke a week later. He stepped it up in big games against Arsenal and Chelsea. Schneiderlin sat out matches with Aston Villa and Manchester City in December 2013, but returned for the festive period, where he was mainly solid. He had what was probably his best performance of the season against Arsenal at St Marys on January 28th 2014, using the ball very well. He spent a lot of time doing the ugly work in midfield, but showed his attacking prowess against Norwich, making a trademark run into the box before scoring. Saints missed Schneiderlin's defensive qualities at Tottenham on March 23rd.

Club form was finally recognised by France boss Didier Deschamps, who named the player on his reserve list for the World Cup. Schneiderlin was called up to the main 23 when others dropped out injured. He made his international debut as a late substitute against Jamaica on 8th June. He completed an impressive 90 minutes against Ecuador on 25th June, a 0-0 draw in the final match of the group stages. Schneiderlin sat on the bench for all the other matches.

Schneiderlin was heavily linked with a move away from St Marys throughout the summer of 2014. On July 28th, several media outlets reported that he was close to linking up with Pochettino again at Tottenham. Saints informed the player in a meeting the following day that he would not be allowed to leave. Schneiderlin reacted angrily, tweeting "6 years of an amazing journey DESTROYED in 1 hour !!!".

Schneiderlin missed Saints’ friendly against Bayer Leverkusen on August 9th, having been described as physically and mentally unprepared by manager Ronald Koeman. The midfielder would return for the clash at Liverpool on 17th August. Koeman claimed the player was back to his best in training and had accepted the clubs decision to keep him at Southampton. He put in a good display at Anfield, and was unlucky not to score, hitting the bar towards the end of the game. Schneiderlin was fairly impressive in the 0-0 draw against West Brom on 23rd August, but really caught the eye the following week, with two goals in a 3-1 win at West Ham.

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