Is Bastian Schweinsteiger taking advantage of Man United?
Public relations war brewing at Old Trafford over midfielder's attitude and position within the club
A public relations war appears to have broken out at Old Trafford and Manchester United and Bastian Schweinsteiger are battling for the high ground.
The German midfielder, who has struggled with fitness since moving to United a year ago, has failed to impress new manager Jose Mourinho, who has made it clear he considers the 32-year-old surplus to requirements.
Despite reportedly being on a contract worth £160,000 a week, Schweinsteiger has been ordered to train with the reserves, a situation with which he appears to be content as has refused to agitate for a transfer.
Added to that, he has been vocal in his support of the team, watching their games from the stands and mingling with fans.
This week, he even released a statement on Twitter saying United were the only team that could have persuaded him to leave former club, Bayern Munich, and he would not be prepared to play for another side in Europe.
He also praised the United fans and told them: "I will be ready, if the team needs me."
"United supporters have praised Schweinsteiger's conduct since he was culled from the senior squad and his nice guy reputation has grown," says Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News. But he is not a Mourinho-style player and his exclusion from the squad is "understandable and United are unlikely to miss him".
However, the German "is a footballer seemingly content with not playing football", he adds: "Schweinsteiger is earning unbelievable money, has just married and is capitalising on United's recent penchant for handing out lavish contracts."
Coincidentally, it has come to light that key figures at Man Utd were deeply unimpressed by his attitude after he was injured.
Schweinsteiger was told to "stop watching tennis and get fit", reports the Daily Mail. "A group of furious senior Old Trafford stars, fed up with seeing pictures of their team-mate watching his now-wife Ana Ivanovic as they laboured towards a fifth-place finish, approached the World Cup winner to make their feelings clear."
The player was told "in no uncertain terms" that his approach was sending out the wrong signals. The Mail claims it influenced Mourinho's decision to ostracise him.
So where now for Schweinsteiger, after he rejected the idea of a move to another European club and his manager made it clear he would not play for United?
It seems the stand-off will last another few months at least, says the Mail.
"A move to the United States makes sense and would be suited to Schweinsteiger's tennis star wife Ivanovic. However, the transfer window for the MLS will not re-open until February. It is a similar story in China where the window for Super League clubs opens again in January."
Another option would be for United to pay him off and allow him to leave as a free agent. That way at least they would save some of the £16m they would have to pay in wages if he were to remain for the next two seasons.