Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is set to trim his squad following their return from their successful tour of the USA.
The Dutchman has revealed that he will now judge which players will not feature prominently in his plans this season and will allow them to leave if they wish.
One of the players who is reportedly not in the 62-year-old’s plan is Shinji Kagawa. The Japan international joined the Red Devils from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2012 for an initial transfer fee of £12 million amidst loads of hype and expectations, but in his two seasons at Old Trafford he has been largely disappointing.
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One of the main reasons why the 25-year-old has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League is that he has been played out of his natural position.
Kagawa is best suited to the number 10 role in attack, but both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes played him out wide. The former Cerezo Osaka star has understandably struggled to play his best football and has thus been branded a ‘flop’ and a ‘failure’ by many.
The Japanese player is far from a ‘flop’ as football followers who watched his performances for Dortmund in his two years with the German club would testify, but perhaps the midfielder should return to his old team to rejuvenate himself.
Earlier this summer there were reports that the former Bundesliga champions wanted to sign Kagawa, but those suggestions have cooled and now Atletico Madrid are reported to be interested in him.
But if – and this is a big if – there is any chance that Kagawa could move to Dortmund even on a season-long loan deal, then he should take it. After all, his former teammate Nuri Sahin did and now he has once again become an important player for BVB.
Sahin joined Real Madrid from Dortmund in the summer of 2011, but after a disappointing season, he moved to Liverpool on loan. Reds manager Brendan Rodgers played the Turkey international out of position as a number 10, leading him to struggle at Anfield and eventually leave after just five months as a ‘flop’.
And where did he go? Dortmund. Sahin featured on loan for the German club for the following 18 months and is now on their books on a permanent basis. The midfielder has regained his place in coach Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up and is playing to his potential once again.
Could Kagawa follow his former teammate’s footsteps and return to his best at his old club? Back in May of last year, Klopp stated how he had ‘tears in his eyes’ to see his former player being deployed in a wrong position - just like Sahin, Kagawa remains close to his heart. After all, it was under Klopp that the Japanese star came to the fore in European football.
Klopp knows Kagawa inside out and although at the moment there is no readily available place in his starting line-up for him, the German can help the midfielder recover his touch and find him a role as the season unfolds. There can no doubt whatsoever about Kagawa’s quality – what he needs is confidence and people around him who will help him regain his self-conviction.
Will Kagawa get that at United this season? Answers on a postcard, please.