Manchester United’s pre-season tour has been great for fans of the club in all four corners of the globe. Ferguson has taken the friendly fixtures as an opportunity to showcase the young players amongst the Red Devils ranks, the next generation of Man United stars.
But more importantly, the clubs supporters have been able to witness the ability of the team’s new signing, Shinji Kagawa. The £17 million buy from German champions Borussia Dortmund looked impressive on both the South African and Chinese legs of United’s globe-trotting pre-season programme.
But why should we be excited to see the Japanese midfielder in the Premier League this season?
Before signing for Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2012, no-one had heard Shinji Kagawa’s name before. Since he hadn’t played for Japan at the World Cup in South Africa, it was assumed he would be little more than a stand-in at his new club.
The first time the Dortmund fans laid eyes on their new player was during a pre-season against Manchester City. Kagawa ran rings around the latest expensive signings in sky blue and was the best player on the pitch.
There were moments in his first six months in Germany when he seemed like a superhero. He became an instant cult hero after scoring twice away against Schalke to give Borussia their first derby win in more than three years.
Coincidently Kagawa’s favourite player is none other than Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta. Much like the Spanish wizard, Kagawa displays the vision and technique needed to operate in the tightest of space, he sees the passes that nobody else can.
These characteristics, along with confidence and ambition should stand him in good stead during his first season in England. As is usually the case with players who are new to the Premier League, there will be some concerns about whether he can adapt to the pace and physicality of the British game.
But that shouldn’t be a problem. Kagawa has experienced two seasons with Dortmund – a team whose entire game is based on the constant movement and work-rate of every player.
Just like Iniesta, he can dribble, create and score from all attacking midfield positions. The Japanese midfielder is quick and willing – he should do fine in the Premier League.
Even United’s Wayne Rooney is excited about the club’s latest signing. Sir Alex Ferguson’s plan for Kagawa to play in a free role between midfield and attack has filled the England striker with optimism heading into the new season.
‘Shinji’s settled quite quickly,’ he said, “He’s a talented player, he likes to get on the ball and keep it simple’
‘I’m looking forward to playing with him and I think he’ll create a lot of chances for myself and the other forwards.’
Ferguson, who has also been praising Kagawa, sees the Japan international as the key man just behind the strikers.
He is exactly the style of player United have been missing the past few seasons. I think we’ll now see a big change in the way the club plays going forward. Having been directly involved in 30 out of 49 Dortmund goals last season, the stats alone tell the story.
I’m very excited to see Kagawa playing in England and I wish him all the best at Manchester United.