LONDON: Bastian Schweinsteiger is finally leaving Manchester United, seven months after being turned into an Old Trafford phantom by manager Jose Mourinho.

United have agreed to release the veteran former Germany captain to Major League Soccer outfit Chicago Fire, subject to a medical and visa application, on a one-year contract.

Schweinsteiger, 32, said: “I am sad to leave so many friends at Manchester United but I am grateful to the club for allowing me the chance to take up this challenge.

“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.”

Schweinsteiger, who led Germany to World Cup victory in 2014, had talks with Chicago Fire last year but opted to stay at United beyond the end of the January window.

However, Fire requested the midfielder join them now and, as Schweinsteiger was unlikely to play any significant part at United for the remainder of the season, the Old Trafford club have sanctioned his exit.

Training exclusion

Last week, he trained with some junior members of the United squad while the remainder prepared for their Europa League game against FC Rostov.

Chicago Fire manager Veljko Paunovic told local media: “In the locker room, he will be a huge example of a champion. 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.”

Schweinsteiger, who was signed by the Old Trafford club under former boss Louis Van Gaal in July 2015, trained alone or with the under-23s after Mourinho took over last summer.

He returned to the first-team set-up before a Europa League game against Fenerbahce in November and played his first game for the club this season in an EFL Cup win over West Ham on 30 November.

He has made only three further appearances – scoring one goal – with his last outing as a substitute against Saint-Etienne in the Europa League on February 22.