Shinji Kagawa is barely 23. He is not the new Paul Scholes. He will not, on his own, transform Manchester United, but he can be a catalyst for so much change and a move to the next phase of United's success.
He will also not by any means be United's only major summer signing. Nor should the signings of Angelo Henriquez and Nick Powell be underrated.
For the doom-mongers who have forecast that United only have the money to buy one player, the offer for Luka Modric is a reality check. Other players will follow.
In my series on Wholesale Changes at Old Trafford, I forecast that:
There would be a big clear-out this summer; this has started and there is much to come;
There would be more money to spend than some people would have you believe; the Glazers have always sanctioned Sir Alex Ferguson's spending;
There could be several players coming in; this is so that Sir Alex can rebuild the squad to be flexible for all competitions and scenarios, and he can change a tactical formation at will.
Shinji Kagawa fits perfectly with the latter scenario. While Javi Hernandez is a hugely talented, though one-dimensional striker (his pace and brain create opportunities and he simply scores goals); Danny Welbeck can play on the wing or up front; Rooney can play anywhere; Young can play on the wing, through the middle or in the hole, etc.
People have unfavourably compared United to Barcelona for too long. My belief for four years now is that Sir Alex has been moving toward a 'total football' approach similar to the great Dutch team of Cruyff and the very best Brazilian teams through history.
From Academy level to the EPL, even new signings are coached into new talents: attacking players learn to tackle (Valencia is the best example, being a competent full-back as well as winger); and defenders are coached to pass and attack (Evans, Jones, Smalling).
Some are adaptable to a wide variety of positions: Fabio can play left or right back or orthodox wing. As he and Rafael mature, they will also be able to play attacking midfield.
Rooney is the master, and the future United will be built around his world-class talents and tremendous adaptability and flexibility.
In this slideshow, we shall consider the various facets that Kagawa brings to the show and also the ways it can make United far less one-dimensional than any team in the EPL and many in Europe.
Some things are paramount—and have been for some time. If you sign for United, whether as an incoming transfer or on a senior contract fresh out of the Academy, Ferguson wants you for the rest of your career. You are a squad player. You subjugate yourself to the wider team imperative,; and you accept, relish and draw on the cloak of United's attractive, attacking football traditions.
In short, United don't do Catenaccio, park the bus, lump the ball up the middle or play with no striker.