The first juicy rumor of the Chicago Fire's offseason has come out.
It's not exactly a new rumor, but the Fire are reportedly talking to German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The 32-year-old World Cup winner has not played for Manchester United since Jose Mourinho took over as manager at the start of the current English Premier League season and Schweinsteiger is looking to get out of Manchester even though he is under contract through June 2018.
One report says Schweinsteiger is currently in talks with MLS teams. Further, a report out of England shows a meeting between Paunovic and Schweinsteiger in Greater Manchester. It's fair to be wary of reports when it comes to the murky waters of the British football press, but the photos do show Paunovic and Schweinsteiger at the same location.
For an interesting, and perhaps even relevant, sidenote: Schweinsteiger's wife, tennis star Ana Ivanovic, is Serbian like Paunovic and sent an encouraging message to Paunovic's U-20 Serbian team when he coached that group to an U-20 World Cup title before taking over at the Fire.
The Fire have Schweinsteiger's Discovery rights in MLS, which basically equates to the Fire having first dibs on the German. All of this adds up to the move being plausible, although a player with Schweinsteiger's resume (eight-time Bundesliga winner, 2013 Champions League winner, 2014 World Cup winner) will have multiple suitors from both within MLS and around the world.
The bigger question may be what kind of player Schweinsteiger would be in MLS. At 32, he's not too old to think he can't still be productive at a high level. However, this is a player with 342 career appearances with Bayern Munich and 121 caps with Germany before he was basically frozen out at Manchester United. Mileage could be a concern more than age. Knee injuries last season limited him to 18 appearances, 13 of which were starts, in the Premier League last season.