German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has extended his contract with Bayern Munich through the 2016 season, a move made public by his taking the microphone off the Allianz Arena's announcer and revealing the deal on stage in front of the fans after Bayern's 3-0 win over St. Pauli:
I have extended my contract and will stay at FC Bayern until 2016. Long live Bayern!
-Bastian Schweinsteiger, 12/11/2010.
The 26 year-old Schweinsteiger's star has been rising ever since he assumed a more central position in Bayern's midfield, and his sublime play during Germany's 2010 World Cup run cemented his reputation as one of the world's top talents. With his £100K per week contract originally due to expire at the end of 2012, several other teams had been vying to poach him from the Bundesliga side, including Chelsea and Manchester United - the latter side apparently offering Bayern an £18M transfer fee earlier this week. However, with Schweinsteiger now under contract for the long run, any thoughts of him joining one of the big Premier League or La Liga sides is now out of the question. The clubs pursuing his signature will be moving to plan B.
Schweinsteiger's contract demands were rumoured to be in the £140-150K per week range, and there had been some rumours of his being discontent with life in the Bundesliga. All of that, I'd imagine, is now water under the bridge. Congratulations to Bayern for retaining the services of Germany's best player.
What Does This Mean For Chelsea?
Schweinsteiger was expected to be a major target for the Blues, who've looked strangely lightweight in the midfield with the extended absence of Frank Lampard and the rather sporadic availability of Michael Essien. With a big money-move for Schweinsteiger (who would have been cup-tied in Europe) now impossible, Chelsea may move on to lesser-known targets to bolster their midfield come January.
Without worrying about a possible big-money bid for the German star, Chelsea will also now be able to more confidently pursue other major targets, rumoured to include the likes of Gary Cahill and Benfica's David Luiz. Schweinsteiger probably should have been first, second, third, and fourth on Chelsea's wish list, so it'll be interesting to see what Chelsea might do without that possibility. There's a lot of paths they could take to improve their side in January, but none of them will be as exciting - in the short or long term - as acquiring Schweinsteiger would have been.
I'd put my money on Chelsea buying both Cahill and a backup-calibre midfielder from one of Europe's second-tier sides this January rather than making any huge splashes, despite the noises that Chelsea are prepared to spend big in this transfer window.