Morgan SchneiderlinMorgan Schneiderlin’s name is no longer a secret in football.

The 25-year-old has been an ever-present figure in a Southampton side which is still punching above its weight in the quest for a top four finish this season.

Schneiderlin’s impressive form for the Saints over the past 18 months has reportedly attracted the interest of the Premier League’s bigger clubs.

Indeed, it takes something special to have Arsenal in pursuit and so L’equipe recently sat down with the Frenchman to discuss his rise to stardom.

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Following the Gunners’ acquistion of Calum Chambers from Southampton last summer, Schneiderlin was rumoured to be the next man on the way to Arsenal even though the move failed to happen.

And in the candid interview, the midfielder opened up about several topics, including how he managed to remain at the St Mary’s Stadium despite the mass exodus last summer.

On taking on another dimension…

“In terms of confidence in my own game, that is true, I feel that I am better in the Premier League. For France, I want to show more than I have up until now. I know that I am capable, but the World Cup has liberated me.”

On what he can bring to the national team…

“I am not the type of player who will make 15 nutmegs, 50 flicks and light up the evening. I am more there guy who wins the ball back, looking for one-twos, working on possession. Maybe I need to let myself go a little more, but my aim is to remain tidy with my football.”

On playing as a defensive midfielder…

“It is a role that I like a lot, even if Southampton often play with two, in a 4-4-2. But I like to get as many touches of the ball as possible, to run the game. My role does give other players greater liberty going forward and protects the defence, to compensate for the bombing forward of the full-backs. For me, in this 4-3-3 system, Sergio Busquets is the model, not very attacking, but in charge of balancing the team.”

On whether he is treated with more respect in the Premier League since becoming a French international…

“Yes, there is another attitude displayed towards me, but I think that is more to do with how I have been playing in the league. Sometimes, opposing teams have an individual player making me and that is a sign of respect. They did it less before.”

On moving on…

“It is not I who establishes my price. But that’s just the reality of the situation. In August, I wanted to move on but the club let too many players go for them to accept for me to leave. Since then, I have had discussions with the representatives and I want to play at a higher level: it is important, at the age of 25, to finally experience the Champions League. After that, at the end of the season, Southampton might qualify for the Champions League and I could also stay, who knows… But well, I don’t want to be sitting in front of my TV anymore on Tuesday and Wednesday nights…”

On his failed attempts to leave last summer…

“I immediately moved on to the next thing. I told myself: they made a business decision, that’s normal, it is football… Out of respect for the club, who made me into the player that I have become, I immediately came back and gave my all. Despite everything, I got injured in December because I was not able to have the same pre-season preparations as the rest of the squad.”

On his gym work…

“It is true that I have gained some (muscle). During my time out injured, I worked hard, notably on my upper body. I have probably gained about 1kg of muscles. And I feel it, in my game, it helps me. It is important, in the Premier League, to be able to resist opponents. After that, you have to get the balance right because you cannot be too heavy in my position or you lose mobility.”

On his sending off against Chelsea…

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“I got annoyed with Cesc Fabregas because he wouldn’t stop talking, he kept doing these little things. He made me lose my head and, during one play, I forgot that I was already on a warning, I saw him go down the line and I thought that this was the moment to unleash a little challenge on him. Something that I realise I did stupidly…”

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