Football

Asian stars worth more than money

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Expect big things of Kagawa next season (©GettyImages)
Expect big things of Kagawa next season (©GettyImages).

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wasted little time going about his business this summer, bringing highly-rated Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa to the club for a currently undisclosed fee.

The 23-year-old playmaker has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence in the last two years, having moved from his native Japan to the Bundesliga in the summer of 2010. Providing a work permit is granted at the end of the month, England will be his next home.

BVB paid a staggeringly low £300,000 for the player, plucking Kagawa from Cerezo Osaka in the J League Division Two. His sale will represent a sizable profit for the back-to-back German champions.

The Red Devils have had their eye on the player for some time at the Westfalenstadion, with Sir Alex Ferguson making personal scouting trips to check on the player on a number of occasions last season.

And, if the Scot wasn’t 100% sure over making a move, his mind will have been made up by Kagawa’s performance against Bayern Munich in the German Cup final last month, when the Champions League runners-up were defeated 5-2.

"He's simply a great footballer. His movement is insane. I wouldn't like to play against him," said teammate Mats Hummels.

Despite all of these factors, some may raise their eyebrows over the move, suggesting it’s nothing more than a marketing ploy to increase shirt sales in Asia.

The same accusations were thrown at Park Ji-Sung when he first arrived at Old Trafford, signed from PSV Eindhoven in 2005 after three years with the Dutch outfit.

Seven years later, the former South Korean international remains an integral part of the Manchester United machine, and the go-to man for Sir Alex Ferguson when the big games come around both domestically and in Europe.

Lee Chung-Young made a major impact at Bolton in his first two seasons at the Reebok Stadium, although injury prevented the former FC Seoul star from making an impact last season in the failed fight against relegation.

Other players have been less successful from the Far East mind you, with the likes of Park Chu-Young and Li Tie making minimal impact at Arsenal and Everton respectively.

Kagawa would appear to be in a different bracket though, and has the potential to be the best Asian player to ever grace the Premier League in its 20-year history next term.

Able to play in either an attacking midfield position or out wide, he’ll certainly fit into either a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation, with Ferguson able to utilize Kagawa in a number of ways both home and away.

How quickly he adapts to life in the English top flight will dictate how much he plays next season, but if the last 24 months are anything to go by, we could see something very special next season.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
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