One man who will probably not be pleased about the arrival of Juan Mata at Old Trafford is Shinji Kagawa. Signed less than 2 years ago from Borussia Dortmund for a fee that was reportedly £12m, Kagawa has failed to impress. However, that in part is due to the sparing use of the player.
Kagawa has made just x appearances at United and of those y have been in his best position in the hole in behind the striker. It’s understandable that he hasn’t played when United have had all their best players fit. But it’s perplexing giving his exploits at Dortmund and the glimpses he’s shown in the Premier League, that when they've been missing Rooney and van Persie and looked completely devoid of creativity, that Moyes hasn't turned to the Japanese star.
The cynical amongst us will say that Kagawa’s signing is nothing more than a shirt selling policy, intent on keeping United’s strong fan base in Asia, especially when Park Ji-Sung departed at a similar time. However, I think it’s more than that, I can’t see Ferguson signing a player he wasn’t completely happy with or who he thought was good enough for his team.
In one and a half seasons at United Kagawa has made just 24 starts. Last season he started 17 games, scoring 6 goals and providing 3 assists. When you consider that this was his first season in the Premier League and he had to adjust to a different culture as well as style of play this isn’t a bad return.
It’s slightly worse than his record at Dortmund, where in his first season he scored 8 in 17 games but then he provided just 1 assist. In his second season at Dortmund Kagawa established himself as a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s team, starting 29 Bundesliga games, scoring 13 and setting up 8 goals.
In his time at Dortmund, Kagawa was deployed for the most part behind the central striker (Barrios and then Lewandowski). This is his favoured position and where he is most effective. At United he has been deployed almost exclusively on the left, Moyes looks reluctant to use him in his best position, this is understandable when Rooney’s fit, but when he’s not Kagawa is the surely the next best option.
He’s not a winger and so it’s hard to see why he’d be played there, Kagawa isn’t the fastest. His real talent is his technical and passing ability. Moyes has a similar problem with Mata now, presumably he will behind the striker whilst Rooney is injured, but where will that leave Mata when he returns? Mata is a player from the same mould as Kagawa and although the former has proved himself in England, that doesn’t mean he will at United.
Admittedly the problem is partly that Kagawa hasn’t excelled when he’s been given the chances to at United. But those chances have been limited and for the most part not in best position, and for that the blame lies with United. Kagawa certainly needs a confidence boost and Mata’s signing won’t help that, a run of games in the team could have seen him fulfil his utmost potential, as it is it looks more likely that he’ll leave Manchester.
Kagawa will have a number of suitors across Europe, most notably his former club Dortmund, they would certainly be glad to have him back in their team and it’s a move that wouldn’t be too surprising, although it might wait until the summer.
Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com
Form more of the same see: whoateallthepis.blogspot.co.uk