Losing a player like Bastian Schweinsteiger is never going to be easy. Despite his injury issues the last two seasons, the Bayern Munich vice-captain was still the best midfielder in the world when he was on and somewhere in the top 10 on his off days. Even at the age of 30 -- closing in on 31 -- he still had a ton to offer Bayern Munich. Which is why he's costing north of €20M per season at his new digs in Manchester.
The crux in all of that though is that Bayern Munich had to lose one midfielder this off season. The return of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from loan and the purchase of Joshua Kimmich gave Bayern Munich an overadundance of players for what amounts to three positions on the pitch. And that's very easy to see if we start with a playing time breakdown. We'll start with Bayern's options with Schweinsteiger involved.
I'm going to make a couple assumptions about playing time before I start: 1) Bayern Munich make the semi-finals in the Champions League and the DFB Pokal final, creating a total of 52 games: 2) assuming a deep-lying 3-man midfield plays in every match: 3) Jan Kirchoff goes the proverbial way of the dodo bird. Bayern Munich will likely succeed in the first condition, whereas the second is the most liberal estimate of playing time. The third kind of speaks for itself. All in all this is a grand total of 14,040 playable minutes for the Bayern Munich midfield.
With Bastian Schweinsteiger
|Even Split||Alaba at Half|
With an even split of playing time, each player would get 1755 minutes. From this I'm going to split David Alaba off to half time as he'll play all over the pitch for Bayern Munich and is not likely to earn the most minutes at this position. With Alaba at half time, the grand total for each player rises to 1880, which is nowhere near enough playing time to satisfy any player on the team.
This does make an assumption that no injuries occur, but even under that condition, the loss of a single player at all points in the season due to injury leads to the same state I'll show with Schweinsteiger removed.
Without Bastian Schweinsteiger
|Even Split||Alaba at Half||1 absence continuous|
Without Bastian Schweinsteiger, the playing time problem becomes much simpler. At an even split, each player earns a little over 2000 minutes and with David Alaba marked to half time it jumps to nearly 2200 minutes. Assuming 90 minutes every appearance, that's 24 games of the 52, for every player. Which is a respectable amount of playing time for everyone involved.
Where it gets even more interesting is that with one continuous absence due to injury each player actually has a theoretical maximum of 2600 (and the grand total of those minutes exceeds the 14000 assumed), or 28 90-minute appearances. To replicate that condition with Schweinsteiger in the lineup you'd have to guarantee not having access to the equivalent of two entire players for the entire season. While that's happened the last two seasons for Bayern Munich (in part played by Bastian Schweinsteiger), expecting that level of injury to continue isn't a reasonable expectation for looking at playing time.
To further add to that, if Bayern Munich are serious about getting younger and creating spots in their team for their best young talent long term, Rode, Hojbjerg, and Kimmich are all going to need to see this level of playing time. Playing Schweinsteiger would lead to a greater likelihood that Bayern Munich win trophies this season and that's not in doubt. And despite the statements of the club that every off season, the plan is to win every trophy this season without regards for the season beyond that, nothing is that black and white. This was a move designed with the future in mind made at a time when Bayern Munich still have the available experienced components to make a serious run at three trophies AND need the space to ensure they can make the run in 2016/2017.
While you'd love to see Bayern Munich shed a player like Xabi Alonso just for the sentimental attachment we all have to Fußballgott -- leaving Alonso's defensive deficiencies to one side -- the fact is that the injury history, contract expiration next summer, and age, all coupled together with the playing time factors presents a case where moving on was the best of both worlds for Schweinstegier and the club.