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Morgan Schneiderlin 18

With six months under his belt at Everton and half a season in which he was able to assess the needs of the squad he inherited from Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman had identified central midfield as one of the areas that needed urgent strengthening in the January 2017 transfer window.

Idrissa Gueye, the Blues' star signing of the previous summer, had jetted off to the Africa Cup of Nations for at least four weeks, James McCarthy, Muhamed Besic and Darron Gibson were all battling injuries and Tom Cleverley had failed to convince the new manager that he was the answer in an important area of the pitch.

With Morgan Schneiderlin, arguably the standout player under Koeman at Southampton before he was bought by Manchester United, out of favour at Old Trafford, it seemed logical that the pair reunite at Everton.

Ultimately, the Blues fended off interest from West Bromwich Albion and a reported approach from Marseille for the 27-year-old who was signed on a 4½-year contract after a fee of £20m, rising to £24m if appearance-related add-ons are triggered, was agreed.

Schneiderlin had already spent almost a decade in England having signed for Southampton from Strasbourg in 2008 for £1.2m. He was a prominent member of the Saints side that gained promotion to the Premier League in 2012 and had blossomed into one of the division's best defensive midfielders by the time Mauricio Pochettino left St Mary's Stadium and Ronald Koeman took the reins.

He attracted the attention of former United boss Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2015 and, billed as a long-term successor to Michael Carrick, made a £24m switch to the northwest, a fee that would have topped £27m had he met certain appearance-related add-ons.

His first and only goal for the Red Devils followed in October – coincidentally, it came against Everton at Goodison Park in a 3-0 win – but he failed to impress Van Gaal's successor year while Carrick has remained a vital part of the United team.

Under Mourinho, Schneiderlin played less than 2½ hours of competitive first-team football for United and just 11 minutes in the Premier League. The Old Trafford hierarchy were keen, nevertheless, to recoup their outlay on the France international and reportedly knocked back offers of £13m from West Brom and an £19m bid from Everton before a deal closer to their asking price was eventually agreed.

An obvious long-term replacement for Gareth Barry who would turn 36 in 2017 and short-term cover for Idrissa Gueye while he was at the Africa Cup of Nations, Koeman was pleased to have got a deal for Schneiderlin over the line.

"I know the qualities of the player," Koeman said after his reunion with Schneiderlin was confirmed. "I know him as a person and he's really desperate to come to Everton and that's what we need. He's a fast player, a clever player and he's a personality. This is a new step. It's a new future and he will show us his qualities, I am convinced of that."

Schneiderlin, meanwhile, appeared to be similarly excited at the chance to relaunch his career, saying:

"There is a manager in place here that I know, I know he can get the best out of me, I know his style and how he likes to play football," the France international said. I've always loved the atmosphere in the stadium. I can't wait to play and to represent this great club.

"I want to put my print on this club and do everything to get Everton where it belongs."

That he certainly did with some a series of solid performances that strengthened the midfield substantially and was at the heart of a good unbeaten run after the Goodison derby that saw Everton rise to the top of the Premier League form table for a few months in the New Year.  However, he missed a few big games with injury and Everton could progress no higher than 7th in the end.

It was from that point that Morgan's form collapsed. Whether it was his marriage to Camille Sold in the summer of 2017 or some other factor, the drop-off in his performances the following season was alarming. Everton's Europa League campaign fell apart in the same way that their Premier League season would as well leading to Koeman's sacking.

Schneiderlin was then forced to deny reports that he was either "sent away" from training by caretaker boss David Unsworth for a lack of discipline or simply walked out with Kevin Mirallas. Nevertheless, the Frenchman was omitted from Unsworth's squad for the first home fixture against Watford, three days after he was sent off in Lyon for two bookable offences in the Blues' 3-0 defeat.

“The sending off was totally my fault. It was a stupid red card,” he would admit later. “When we got drawn against Lyon, I thought it was a good way for me to show myself for the France national team and it didn't happen. We got battered 3-0. I was frustrated. My mistake."

Sam Allardyce, the second interim manager that season, saw more in Schneiderlin than most did, including a number of Everton fans who were frustrated by his lack of effort, accusing him of hiding in games, only passing sideways or backwards, and lacking commitment in the tackle. His defensive midfield pairing with Gana became a bellwether of the negativity brought to Everton's play by Allardyce's appointment as manager, producing a crescendo of boos from the Goodison faithful when the Frenchman was brought on as an 80th-minute substitute against Crystal Palace.

Schneiderlin later said the fans wrongly gained the impression that he was not dedicated to the club.

"It eats me like crazy because the most frustrating thing is that image is not myself," he said. "I am an honest guy who works very, very hard. I can have a bad game, or a bad performance, but putting that on me that I don't give a shit, I don't care — that is not who I am."

Surprisingly, rather than make an expected exit in the summer of 2018, Schneiderlin survived the cull that would follow Allardyce's welcome departure and the even more welcome arrival of Marcel Brands and Marco Silva, who would breath new life into Everton and, eventually, Schneiderlin.

Though he was involved early in the campaign while loan signing Andre Gomes recovered from a hamstring injury he had suffered in pre-season, Schneiderlin found himself on the peripherary of the first team while the Portuguese made the central midfield slot alongside Gueye his own. However, on the occasions that Gomes was unavailable in the latter weeks of the season, Schneiderlin stepped in and performed with the kind of displays that made him such a coveted asset at Southampton and early on in his Goodison career, leading to talk that he stay on as an important cog in the Blues' wheel.

FactFile

Squad number 2, 18
Position Midfield
Nationality France
Born Zellwiller
Date of birth 8 November 1989
Height 6'-1" (1.85 m)
Joined 12 January 2017
Joined from Manchester United
Signed under Ronald Koeman
Transfer fee £20M (rising to £24M)
Contract duration 4½ years
Contract expires June 2021
Debut (Sub) v Manchester City (H)
15 January 2017
Full debut v Stoke City (A)
12 February 2017
Previous Clubs Strasbourg,
Southampton,
Manchester United
» Soccerbase Datafile
» Wikipedia Entry
» Transfermarkt

Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2016-17 2 12 (2) 1 0 (0) 0 12 (2) 1
2017-18 2 24 (6) 0 10 (0) 0 34 (6) 0
2018-19 18 10 (4) 0 1 (1) 0 11 (5) 0
2019-20 18 2 (0) 0 1 (0) 0 3 (0) 0
  Totals 48 (12) 1 12 (1) 0 60 (13) 1


Previous Career

Seasons Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2015-17 Manchester United 32 1
2008-15 Southampton 230 14
2006-08 Strasbourg 5 0



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