Bastian Schweinsteiger is headed to MLS.

Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger Signs With Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire announced late Monday they have acquired the 32-year-old German midfielder from Manchester United.

Schweinsteiger signed a one-year designated player contract that guarantees him $4.5 million in 2017, according to a source close to the Fire. The deal makes him one of the 10 highest-paid players in MLS and includes a mutual option for at least one more year. The German star comes to Chicago as merely the second reigning FIFA World Cup champion to join MLS.

The Fire, led by coach Veljko Paunovic, have finished last in MLS standings in the past two seasons. Schweinsteiger could join the club by the middle of next week, depending on his P1 visa application and a physical.


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“We’re adding someone who has won at every level, including the very highest levels, and has done so in a way that is consistent with our values,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. “We as a club will now be forced to hold ourselves to a higher standard, an accountability level. Previously, I think we could satisfy ourselves with what is known domestically. Now we need to rise to a standard that is set more internationally.”

Schweinsteiger, who helped lead Germany to their 2014 World Cup title, held negotiations with the Fire last year but ultimately chose to stay with United beyond the end of the January window.

“I am sad to leave so many friends at Manchester United,” he said. “But I am grateful to the club for allowing me the chance to take up this challenge.”

He added: “I have enjoyed working with the manager, players and staff but I have to reserve special thanks to the fans. I will always remember their energy and their passion.”

The German added that he looks forward to playing with the Fire, and praised the club’s vision and philosophy.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always sought opportunities where I hoped to make a positive impact and to help make something great,” Schweinsteiger said in a statement via the club. “My move to Chicago Fire is no different. Through my conversations with Nelson and Pauno, I’m convinced by the club’s vision and philosophy and I want to help them with this project.”

Schweinsteiger has scored 24 goals in 121 career appearances for Germany’s national team, including a start in its victory over Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final. In his 13 seasons with Bayern Munich, he won one Champions League title (2013), and eight titles in Germany’s top division. He won Bundesliga player of the year honors in 2013.

“In the locker room, he will be a huge example of a champion,” Paunovic said. “He still is somebody that can show that on the field and (demonstrate) how our guys have to work, prepare, behave, think and work together in order to get to that level.”

When Schweinsteiger — who is married to retired tennis star Ana Ivanovic — and Paunovic were photographed in November at Piccolino restaurant on the outskirts of Manchester, the soccer world speculated Schweinsteiger was on his way out of the Premier League and headed to the United States.

Schweinsteiger signed with United under former manager Louis van Gaal in July 2015, and trained alone or with the club’s Under-23 squad after Jose Mourinho took over as boss last summer.

The German also shared the following video on Twitter early Wednesday, in which he thanked his fans, as well as his teammates and the staff from United:

Schweinsteiger could be available for selection as soon as Chicago’s home match on Saturday, April 1 against Montreal.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE – JULY 07: Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany controls the ball during the UEFA EURO semi final match between Germany and France at Stade Velodrome on July 7, 2016 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

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