Current Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to join the Fire. Per multiple sources, Chicago/MLS has agreed to terms with the former German national team captain. The deal will be finalized pending Manchester United's formal release of the final year of his contract, which runs until summer of 2018. That formality is expected within days, thereby allowing Schweinsteiger to complete a move to the US, something that has been in the works for several months.
The Fire believed they were close this past January as well, but Manchester United and manager Jose Mourinho tried to maximize a return for the player when they realized that there was interest. Mourinho also tried to move Schweinsteiger last summer but found no takers at the price being asked. With options drying up, China dismissed as a destination, and the player's desire to move, the timing is right to allow an individual of his pedigree to leave on good terms rather than continue the charade of training with reserves and leaving him to toil on the fringes of game day rosters.
Adding Schweinsteiger at this point seems to be an odd match considering that Chicago filled needs in central midfield with Dax McCarty and Juninho and have Matt Polster on the roster as a potential understudy to those two, while apparently still searching for a more attack-minded central player. Regardless of the apparent logjam at the position, Schweinsteiger should still be able to operate at a high level in MLS if he is healthy. Injury concerns over the last few seasons have curtailed his effectiveness and led to his diminished role at Manchester United. He will turn 33 in August, and there should be some question about whether or not he can remain healthy enough to justify the gamble.
He's had time over the last two seasons to rest and recuperate from injures because of diminished playing time. If he's fit and ready, the Fire will have some high quality options in midfield. They'll have a player who was a starter for a World Cup winning side as recently as 2014, and finally have that marquee name that has been missing since Cuauhtemoc Blanco's departure following the 2009 season.
With the All-Star Game set for Chicago this August and the incoming arrival of Schweinsteiger, MLS appears to be making a move to get Chicago back into relevance locally and nationally. The big question is whether or not Schweinsteiger is the right fit at the moment and how will Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic supplement the roster around a 33 year-old box to box midfielder with a short term future on the club.
Make no mistake. The Fire can't afford another year or two of floating around at the bottom of the Eastern Conference while the "process" develops. Signing Schweinsteiger is an indication that they know it.