LONDON, July 14- Manchester United have thrown down the gauntlet to their Premier League title rivals after making a dramatic double swoop for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin on Monday.
United manager Louis van Gaal had made improving his team’s midfield a key component of his transfer window strategy and the Dutchman can now cross that job off his to-do list after a frenetic 24 hours at Old Trafford.
German World Cup winner Schweinsteiger, who played under van Gaal for two years at Bayern Munich, agreed a three-year contract after United tied up a reported £14.4 million deal to sign him from the Bundesliga giants.
And France international Schneiderlin signed from Southampton for a fee in the region of £25 million after agreeing a four-year contract, with the option of a further one-year extension.
United’s midfield duo are expected to jet out immediately to join their team-mates, including fellow new boys Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian, for the club’s pre-season tour of the United States.
They could make their first appearances in a United shirt against Mexican side Club America in Seattle on July 17.
And there was more good news for United as Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea was confirmed among their travelling party for their US tour, seemingly ruling out any imminent move to Real Madrid.
Van Gaal claimed last season that there wasn’t much of a quality gap between United and champions Chelsea, who finished 17 points ahead of the Old Trafford outfit, and he will hope his £80 million spending spree is the springboard for a serious title challenge.
Schweinsteiger, 30, made 500 appearances for Bayern and won eight Bundesliga titles, as well as making 111 appearances for his country culminating in their successful 2014 World Cup campaign.
– Incredible journey –
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Bayern Munich, it has been an incredible journey and I didn’t take the decision to leave lightly. Manchester United is the only club that I would have left Munich for,” he said.
“I feel ready for this new and exciting challenge in what I regard as the most competitive league in the world and I am looking forward to working with Louis van Gaal again.”
Van Gaal added: “Bastian is, of course, no stranger to me. I worked with him during my time at Bayern Munich and I am truly delighted he is joining Manchester United.
“His record speaks for itself; he has won every honour at club level and was a major part of the successful Germany World Cup-winning team last summer.”
Confirmation of Schneiderlin’s arrival followed shortly after that of Schweinsteiger.
The 25-year-old, who had also been attracting interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, impressed in a fine season for Southampton last season and said he had no doubts about his future once he realised United were showing an interest.
“Once I learned that United were interested in signing me, it was a very easy decision to make. I have enjoyed seven very happy years with Southampton and it’s a club that will always be in my heart,” Schneiderlin said.
“But the chance to be part of this squad and to help this great club be successful was too good to miss.”
Meanwhile despite De Gea’s future still remaining in some doubt, he appears set to remain a United player for the time being at least after being confirmed as part of the squad for the US.
United are still awaiting a formal approach from Real Madrid, who sold veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas to Porto this week.
One player who looks certain to leave Old Trafford is Dutch striker Robin van Persie, who is set to be officially unveiled as a Fenerbahce player in Istanbul on Tuesday.