Shinji Kagawa deservedly grabbed the headlines for his outstanding hat-trick against Norwich City at Old Trafford last Saturday, helping the Red Devils move 15 points clear at the top of the league ahead of local rivals Manchester City.
The Japanese international struck a volley on the stroke of half-time, then finished neatly after a Wayne Rooney cutback, before finishing his hat-trick in style with a composed chip. That takes his United tally of goals up to five since his arrival last summer and it was his clinical finishing that would have impressed Sir Alex Ferguson and the fans.
Since Kagawa joined United, questions have been asked if the creative midfielder can adapt to the Premier League. He has picked up a couple of injuries throughout the season, which have meant he's not always had a run of games under his belt. At times, he has looked lightweight when coming up against the bigger, stronger players, and he himself has admitted that he hasn't been satisfied with his performances.
But the 23-year-old showed what he is all about against Norwich, with well-taken finishes, something he was so used to doing at previous club Borussia Dortmund. The way he took his third goal showed that his confidence is growing, with a burst of pace into the box followed by a deft chip over Mark Bunn.
His passing ability is also a key strength, as he manages to make himself available and ping the ball across the pitch creating openings for his teammates.
So far in his time at Manchester, we have seen flashes of brilliance and plenty of encouragement to know that Kagawa has quality in the final third, it is now time to see it more on a consistent basis as he looks to nail a place in the first 11. Ferguson has used him on the left wing a lot of the time as well, a position that he is able to play in. However, he is most natural in the attacking midfield role behind the striker. With Wayne Rooney filling that role at present, the Japanese may not always get to play there, however he will certainly get more opportunities to shine in a central role.
With Paul Scholes playing in a deeper role and Anderson not fulfilling the huge potential he came with, United have been lacking that out and out attacking midfield playmaker for a long time.
Kagawa's arrival was meant to bring in the goals from midfield and help inject more creativity to Ferguson's side. Early signs suggest he is capable and after his last performance, the Red Devils may have found themselves a new hero.
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