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Kagawa made for Manchester

This past weekend saw the start of yet another Premier League season, and on Monday evening Manchester United started their campaign against Everton.

Part of the United squad that evening was new summer signing Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international showcased his great talents in that 1-0 loss.

To many Premier League fans, this was their first glimpse of the attacking midfielder, who was acquired from German champions, Borussia Dortmund for the initial fee of £12m in June.

What makes him a great signing for Manchester is that he has all the great traits that Sir Alex wants from a midfield player; he’s quick, technically extremely gifted and has a tireless work rate.

With his deft passing ability and great vision, Kagawa (pictured) adds that element of creativity that United were lacking last season in particular.

An all round team player

For anybody really paying attention on Monday, it was quite obvious that he has no wasted movements.

It’s not just the obvious things that he does well, such as a skillful touch of the ball or some of the great through balls that placed Danny Welbeck, amongst others, in some great positions, but it’s his movement off of the ball that really opens the game and generates opportunities to score goals.

Kagawa also appeared deep in his own half to claim balls and then quickly transition the play into attack.

Sir Alex Ferguson witnessed all of these great features back in May, when he was in attendance as Borussia Dortmund dismantled Bayern Munich in the German Cup final 5-2.

Kagawa was on fire that night and continuously harassed Bayern, disrupting their play.

Past success

He opened up the scoring early and also delivered the assist for Dortmund’s third goal.

This cup final was not a one game fluke, but rather a showcase of what the Japanese star had been producing for Dortmund in the two championship winning seasons that he was there.

The cup final also showed that the big matches are never too big for him.

He proved that at his “coming out party” during his first season in Dortmund, when he dominated hated rivals Schalke by scoring two goals. After that match, everybody in Germany took note of Kagawa.

Having watched him closely at Dortmund the past two seasons, I can say that he was one of the most important parts of that club winning back-to-back titles and pulling off the double for the first time in their history last season.

The qualities needed for United

An endearing quality for Ferguson must also be that he’s not shy to do the dirty work.

Upon losing the ball (whether himself or a teammate), he’s quick to press the opposition and work to retain possession.

The 23-year-old possesses a very high football IQ and unlike other players of his talent does not have a big ego.

His very calm demeanor will hopefully rub off on his teammates at United, despite him not speaking English.

He is also a man for scoring goals. In his 49 matches for Dortmund, he scored 21 times, and for Japan he averages a goal every third match.

Finding his role in the squad

The key to his success with the Red Devils will be gelling with his team-mates and that players like Scholes, Carrick and Nani learn to trust his instincts and deliver him the ball.

That trust wasn’t completely there yet on Monday, because all too often Kagawa was in an excellent position, but his team-mates elected to go elsewhere and the attack broke down.

Instead of aimlessly speeding into a difficult position, Kagawa glides around and opens space and he never stands still or walks around the pitch.

His best role is drifting right behind the forwards, which is where he played against Everton and was very effective.

Though Robin van Persie is clearly the more headline grabbing summer signing, in a long term view, Shinji Kagawa could prove to be the better one.

By Matthias Suuck

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