A quick look at the stats from Shinji Kagawa’s two-year spell at Manchester United will make it seem as if the Japan international was a failure in the Premier League.
And, in more ways than one, the attacking midfielder was a failure. The 25-year-old did not make a massive impact in English football and failed to get enough playing time under both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes.
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But stats do not always tell the whole story, and certainly do not reflect the talent and potential Kagawa has. And anyone who watched Borussia Dortmund stun Germany and win the Bundesliga title twice in a row in 2011 and 2012 will know the quality the former Cerezo Osaka star possesses.
It was under Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp that Kagawa flourished. The German deployed him in his natural position in attacking midfield behind the strikers and not on the wings – like Ferguson and Moyes did which inhibited him from playing to the best of his abilities.
Going back to Dortmund, Kagawa will be played in his natural position. It will not be easy for the Japanese to slot into the first team and pull the strings rightaway – Marco Reus is now the creator-in-chief of the Bundesliga outfit – but Klopp can make the two play together in the same team.
And that is a scary proposition for Arsenal in the Champions League. The Gunners have been drawn against Dortmund, Turkish giants Galatasaray and Belgium champions Anderlecht in Group D.
While Anderlecht are not expected to do much, Arsenal are not guaranteed a place in the top two of the group. Wining against the Istanbul outfit now managed by Cesare Prandelli will not be easy, and taking on a very attack-minded Dortmund will prove even tougher.
In the past two seasons, Klopp’s side have shown than they are not scared of going to away matches and taking the game to the opposition. And when they come to London to face Arsenal, Kagawa will have something to prove to Premier League followers.
In the past 18 months, Klopp has helped Nuri Sahin regain his confidence and recover his old touch that was so attractive to Real Madrid that they snapped him up in the summer of 2011.
The Turkey international midfielder’s career stalled during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu and his loan spell at Liverpool, but since his return to Dortmund in January 2013, bit by bit he has re-established himself as one of the finest in the business.
The same could happen for Kagawa. It will take time for the now-departed United midfielder to get back into rhythm, but under Klopp’s wings, there is a distinct possibility that he will be able to do so sooner rather than later.
Did Shinji Kagawa fail at Manchester United or did United fail him?