Manchester United Transfer Rumours: Don't Sign Shinji Kagawa
To protect themselves from losing Kagawa on a Bosman next season, Dortmund will sell him during the summer transfer window.
Kagawa going to Manchester United, as rumoured by The Daily Star, makes sense on two fronts: 1) Increased merchandise and revenue from Japan. 2) He adds class to the midfield.
However, I cannot envision Kagawa producing world-class performances week in, week out for Manchester United.
Here are five reasons why Sir Alex Ferguson shouldn't sign Kagawa.
5. Shinji Kagawa Will Not Be World-Class in a 4-4-2
Since 1997, Sir Alex Ferguson has used the 4-4-2 in 466 Premier League games. This season, he has used that formation in 86 percent of league games.
If Shinji Kagawa plays in a 4-4-2 as a centre midfielder, he would be a defensive liability as he only averages 1.2 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game—which would rank as the lowest among Manchester United starting midfielders.
A 37-year-old Paul Scholes, who had been out of the game for six or so months, averages 2.4 tackles per game this season.
What would Kagawa do differently in the centre midfield that Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Anderson and Tom Cleverley wouldn't be able to do?
Unless Ferguson is willing to change to a 4-2-3-1, a formation he has only utilised on 33 occasions in the last 15 years, Kagawa will not consistently produce world-class performances.
Need I remind Manchester United supporters that Anderson won the 2005 U-17 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball as an attacking midfielder—yet Ferguson has hardly played him in that position.
It should be no surprise that Anderson has failed to live up to his €30 million transfer fee—and probably never will.
4. Shinji Kagawa Wants to Be the Main Man
With the exception of Robert Lewandowski, Shinji Kagawa averages the highest amount of shots per game for Borussia Dortmund.
His body language towards Lewandowski was quite negative at times because the Polish forward didn't link up well with him.
I wasn't surprised when Kagawa went to Nikkei and criticised Lewandowski for being selfish.
It confirmed my gut suspicion that there was a clear disconnect between the two this season—as is the case between Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge.
Two teammates vying to be top dog will always create problems—like Franck Ribéry punching Arjen Robben because the Frenchman felt his authority had been usurped.
At Manchester United, Kagawa will have to be Robin rather than Batman because Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Chicharito will shoot on sight.
Will Kagawa be happy with a permanent support role at Manchester United? No.
This season, he averages 2.1 shots per game compared to 1.8 shots created per game.
He is the central attacking midfielder in the 3 of the 4-2-3-1, meaning he should be pass first, shoot second.
Ideally he should play like Mesut Özil, who averages 0.8 shots per game whilst creating
2.9 shots per game.
Gérson, who was Pelé's Xavi, described his role for that legendary 1970 FIFA World Cup winning team:
Now the interesting thing is this, as incredible as it might seem, I prefer a thousand times over to make the pass, rather than to score the goal. For me this was the glory because this is what I was trained for.
Give Kagawa a choice between shooting or passing, he'd choose shooting because he is more alpha than beta.
3. Wayne Rooney or Shinji Kagawa?
Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa both play behind the centre forward.
Rooney loves dropping deep and orchestrating play, hence why he averages 50.8 passes per Premier League game.
Will Rooney change his game to suit Kagawa, who is an inferior player to him? No.
2. Shinji Kagawa Would Be a Better Fit at Arsenal Than Manchester United
Arsène Wenger loves playing the 4-2-3-1, so it would be more logical for Shinji Kagawa to move to Arsenal next season, where he can link up with his compatriot Ryo Miyaichi.
Wenger was the J. League Manager of the Year in 1995, so the Arsenal manager knows the ins and outs of Japanese football and culture a lot better than Sir Alex Ferguson.
Plus, Kagawa is a more productive attacking midfielder than Tomáš Rosický, let alone the inefficient Aaron Ramsey.
1. Shinji Kagawa Shrinks in the Big Games
The most glaring issue with Shinji Kagawa is that he goes missing in big games.
In the DFL-Supercup, Kagawa had minimal impact as Schalke won 4-3 on penalties.
He was anonymous during Borussia Dortmund's disappointing UEFA Champions League campaign.
He has yet to score against Bayern Munich.
Coming up short when it matters most has been a recurring theme throughout his international career: He underperformed during the 2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup, he didn't play well during the 2008 Olympic Games and his worst game during the 2011 Asian Cup was the semifinals against South Korea.
Even if you go back to his last season in Japan, he didn't score against Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka, the only two teams that finished above Cerezo Osaka.
Here is some interesting insight from Akio Kogiku, who scouted Kagawa at high school:
Shinji is a perfectionist. He worries too much about his mistakes. One problem he has is shaking off his emotions. Until now, his disappointment over his poor performance on the national team carried over to Dortmund. Lately, he stopped grumbling about things (under his breath) and is speaking up more. It seems like that's how he's controlling his emotions.
This was on show in a 0-0 draw against Augsburg, where Kagawa's compatriot Hajime Hosogai marked him out of the game.
Kagawa struggled with the fact that Hosogai gained more satisfaction from kicking him than playing football.
As a result, Kagawa cut a forlorn figure as he only made two more passes than Hosogai, who was happy with not touching the ball for extended periods.
Even though this article doesn't portray Shinji Kagawa in a positive light, he is one of my favourite players to watch.
He has high football IQ, lovely vision, excellent positional awareness, wonderful close control and great passing ability.
Kagawa is a world-class talent, but moving to Manchester United will ruin his career—unless Sir Alex Ferguson builds the team around Kagawa.
If Ferguson didn't build the team around Juan Sebastián Verón, why will Kagawa be any different?
Moving to Arsenal will be a better footballing decision for Kagawa.
However, moving to Manchester United is a more lucrative business decision.
I thought this was an excellent quote from BBC football writer Tim Vickery regarding why Kléberson failed at Manchester United:
At United he was earning the kind of money that must have been beyond anything he dreamed about when he was a kid. In his case, perhaps so much success so suddenly had the effect of dampening the flame of desire.
It all goes to show the importance of the human element in football. The game's competitive environment will elicit wildly different responses. Some will grow when faced with a challenge, and some will shrink.
Assuming Kagawa signs with Manchester United, will he rise to the challenge or struggle to meet the expectations of Red Devil supporters? Please comment below.