What is Moyes going to do with Kagawa?

Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa has pleaded with David Moyes for regular first-team action yet again.

The 24-year-old attacker has struggled to get into Moyes’ team so far this term and has made just one Premier League appearance this season in which he was taken off at half time by the boss.

'There's a matter of fitness and there's also that atmosphere of playing for my country. It's different from the atmosphere at United, but you still get a good feel for being on the pitch when you play regularly,' he explained, as quoted by Sky Sports, after Japan’s 1-0 loss to Belarus on Tuesday.

'Maybe it's because I'm not used to being on the pitch of late, but I didn't feel like I was able to enter these two games properly. During tough times like these I have to improve myself.'

There have been growing frustrations, not just from the player himself but also from his former club Borussia Dortmund and their manager and fans – even so far as a social network group set up to ‘Free Shinji’.

This isn’t the first time Kagawa has voiced his concerns at his lack of opportunity under Moyes and, furthermore, it’s not the first time he has expressed his hopes of improving his form for United since arriving from Dortmund for £17m only last summer.

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In Dortmund, coach Jürgen Klopp considered Kagawa one of the finest playmakers, most technically gifted attackers, and intelligent passers in the world and, now 24-years of age, he ought to be rivalling the likes of Mesut Ozil, Juan Mata and David Silva in the Premier League in terms of his creative contribution.

So, what now is David Moyes to do with Kagawa? Clearly something is not working out. As far as I can see, there are three options.

Option A

Moyes could obviously sell Shinji Kagawa – whether back to Dortmund or wherever else he may wish to go. If the boss isn’t going to play him either at all or for long enough that he can rebuild his fitness and form then the situation is not going to get any better at all - neither for Kagawa or the team as a whole and it amounts to pouring money down the drain.

Option B

Or, Moyes could obviously keep him and use him as a utility player – if he hasn’t been impressed by Kagawa’s performance either in games or in training, perhaps letting him know that and challenging him to prove his value to the team would encourage him to improve and motivate him to fight for a place. That would be far more effective than keeping dazed and confused on the bench or in the stands.

Option C

However, what I believe the most practical and beneficial route is to not only play him but to play him in his preferred and most effective position. A lot of talk all summer long and even now in October has been about United’s need for a creative playmaker to take the burden off Wayne Rooney who has said he does not want to play as a midfielder. Moyes can kill two birds with one stone (figuratively) if he places his faith in Kagawa’s exceptional ability and creativity and structures the team around him as the primary midfield playmaker.

That way, Kagawa would likely feel a little more confident in his own ability and his status at the club, the team would benefit from a hugely talented and creative conductor in the heart of their team and strikers would surely benefit from his vision and passing skill and Japan would benefit from his fitness and form. Basically David Moyes can save the world, not by 'freeing' Shinji Kagawa necessarily but by playing him where he plays best and allowing him to dictate the play as he did so well at Dortmund.

image: © Marcel Sigg

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