Shinji Kagawa – the Japanese magician. Having already shown his technical ability for Borussia Dortmund for two seasons, it didn’t need second thoughts when Manchester United decided to bring this little Japanese magician to Old Trafford. His exploits in the Bundesliga earned him a £17m to the Theatre Of Dreams during the 2012-13 season. It was thought of as an amazing addition to the United squad already brimming with top talents. The pairing of Rooney, Van Persie and Kagawa seemed mouth-watering. The attacking midfielder was touted to provide plenty more chances for the forwards. Though it seemed a well done business done by Ferguson but there was another notion that was doing the rounds in the media at the time. Kagawa was seen as a hot commercial prospect, Manchester United has easily the biggest fan base in the Far East. The revenue they generate in Asia helped them towards attaining the top spot in the Forbes list of Most Valuable Sports Team (though they have been over taken by Real Madrid since). Kagawa was branded as a fan base expansion project much like Park Ji Sung. And with the transfer of Ji Sung it gathered pace that Kagawa was bought with a commercial point of view.
I, at that time, was against this notion and believed that Sir Alex had thought it through. Though Kagawa would increase the commercial prospects in Japan but I believed he was bought for footballing reasons. But with half the season gone I started to believe that Sir Alex hadn’t thought it through as to how Kagawa would fit into the existing system. He was clearly having a hard time to fit in Kagawa. If he opted to play with a 4-5-1formation it would mean leaving out Van Persie or Rooney (which turned out to be the latter). And if he chose to go with a 4-4-2 it left the midfield weak during opposition attacks. He tried to play him on the left of midfield but it was clear that it was not going to be a success. Kagawa started spending more time on the bench and with Van Persie continuing his goal scoring attics it meant Kagawa found playing time harder to come by. Subsequently the notion of him being a commercial prospect began to look more favourable. Kagawa is most suited for a 4-5-1 strategy as was shown during his stint in Dortmund. It was pretty evident in a leagues match against Norwich in which he was able to notch up a Hat-Trick, in the process becoming the first Japanese to do so in the Premier League. It was clear for everyone to see that Kagawa thrived with a lone striker. But no manager would be courageous enough to leave out one of two proven winners in Rooney/ Van Persie in favour of a talented yet unproven Japanese.
I personally started believing that Kagawa was more of a commercial project during the pre-season. All the talks for the need of a Mid Fielder just proves that even the current Manager David Moyes doesn’t see Kagawa as a regular first team player, According to me Kagawa is no less talented than Thiago Alcantara in terms of an attacking midfielder. With Rooney seeming evidently unhappy and looking for a transfer I believe its high time Moyes showed some faith in Kagawa. There is no evident reason why it won’t work out with a 4-5-1 formation.
Kagawa as of now is a classic case of talent being wasted. No wonder it pained his former manager, Jurgen Klopp, so much to see him like this and even tried to bring him back. According to me Kagawa can fit in only in a 4-5-1 formation and nothing else. The only addition I think United need is a midfielder that can support Carrick if United are to play with Kagawa. Its left to see given Rooney stays is Moyes has the courage to leave out Rooney (given the current form of RVP) and give Kagawa a fair chance to prove himself.