Shinji Kagawa does have some positive memories of his two-year stint at Manchester United thus far, with the most memorable pair being lifting the Premier League title in his debut campaign and being the first Asian player to register an English top-flight hat-trick.
However, the Japanese international’s career at Old Trafford hasn’t taken off in the way many were eagerly anticipating after his switch from Borussia Dortmund, which reportedly cost £17m.
A fairly quiet first season wasn’t unexpected as he adapted to life in a new country and a more high tempo style of football, yet he still scored or assisted nine goals in 17 starts and ranked among the best in the division for retaining possession, which was impressive given his advanced starting position.
Many would have expected him to kick on in the current campaign, as Eden Hazard has at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud has at Arsenal, Kevin Mirallas has at Everton and Philippe Coutinho has at Liverpool.
The main problem for Kagawa, rather than poor form, was the lack of starts he was afforded under David Moyes. He never started more than two Premier League games in succession with the Scot in charge.
And this is where Moyes may have gone wrong, as Man Utd’s win percentage this season is much improved with Kagawa in their starting line-up.
Without the Japanese playmaker, the Red Devils triumphed in just 44 per cent of their games this season, which rose substantially to 65 per cent with his inclusion.
Furthermore, Kagawa only started in two league defeats this season. Man Utd are 6/1 to win the Premier League in 2014/15 and he could be a vital cog in such a challenge.
Aside from his playmaking qualities, Kagawa brings a fine appreciation of space to the pitch and there is a spot on the left of the front three that he could make his own, with an added licence to roam.
Should Luke Shaw sign for Man Utd as he is widely expected to, Kagawa could be the perfect partner down the flank, with his desire to drift inside certain to create space on the overlap, while the 25-year-old has the passing ability to slide in the teenage full-back.
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