During Manchester United’s struggle to break down Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday night, it became clear that the hosts were crying out for a creative spark in the final third.
Red Devils boss David Moyes may be tempted to dip into the transfer market for such a player after failed attempts to land Marouane Fellaini and Cesc Fabregas this summer, but the Scot should instead turn to Shinji Kagawa.
The Japanese international is significantly behind his teammates in terms of pre-season preparation, but could still have provided precise distribution matched with an assured touch and quick reflexes against the Blues.
Moyes preferred to use Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs from the bench on Monday, despite having an impact substitute at his disposal still revered at Borussia Dortmund for his dazzling performances in the Bundesliga.
Kagawa was the spearhead of Jurgen Klopp’s revolution at the German giants, helping them land a league and cup double as he scored 29 goals in two seasons.
Dortmund fans miss him so much that they launched a 'Free Shinji' campaign online this week, with Klopp also revealing that Kagawa’s peripheral role at United literally brings him to tears.The 24-year-old may have struggled for game time since arriving at Old Trafford last summer, but has yet to be used in his favoured central position.
Kagawa is at his best when collecting the ball from deep and driving a side forward, with the ability to make late runs into the penalty area that are tough to track and even more difficult to stop in full flow.
United fans got a brief glimpse of his potential against Norwich City last season, when Kagawa combined with Rooney to bag a hat-trick which included a sublime chip.
This weekend’s trip to Anfield provides Moyes with the perfect opportunity to assure Kagawa that he remains a key part of his plans, take the shackles off and challenge the midfielder to break down a Liverpool side yet to concede in the Premier League this season.
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