Shinji Kagawa played 30 minutes in his preferred central role last night against Real Sociedad, and displayed glimpses of why he should play number ten at Manchester United.
United drew the game 0-0 but looked a lot more threatening when the playmaker was used in the number ten role, off the striker.
The Japanese star had started the game wide left, where he has been used for the majority of his time in Manchester, since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2012.
But that is not the natural role of Kagawa, who is at his best when central and able to cause problems with his technical ability and vision.
When moved to the centre in the 63rd minute, Kagawa had a big say in the moment which should have won the game for United. His link play with substitute Ashley Young included a clever back-heeled return ball which led to a penalty for David Moyes' men- However Robin van Persie failed to convert.
Moyes- just as Sir Alex Ferguson was- is reluctant to use Kagawa regularly or in his favourite position. It can be said that he is being eased into English football and that he has not the physical demands to cope with the Premier League's style. But he has had time to adapt now.
The Japanese star proved in Germany that he has the class and ability on the ball to mix it with the very best in the world. After joining Dortmund in 2010 from Cerezo Osako in Japan, Shinji contributed with eight goals and two assists in just 18 Bundesliga appearances as his Dortmund side went on the win the league by a seven-point margin.
The following season he netted 13 league goals and supplied another nine as Dortmund retained the title ahead of Bayern Munich, this time by eight points.
With that kind of goal threat coming via finishing and creating, there is no reason that the 24-year-old could not be one of the most dangerous players in England.
It is to the great surprise and horror of his old manager, Jurgen Klopp, that Kagawa is struggling to break through in Manchester.
Speaking to the Guardian earlier this year, Klopp registered his shock at seeing his former star relegated to bench-warming duties.
"Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes. Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw."
And Klopp is no fool when it comes to analysing a player. But then again neither is Sir Alex Ferguson, so it makes you wonder what Kagawa was not and has not been doing in training.
Maybe Kagawa is hampered by the fact that Wayne Rooney has converted from an out-and-out forward to more of a number ten. It is hard to replace Rooney at the best of times but when he is in his current form he is not going to be left out of the side.
The truth is though, appearances few and far between in his un-favoured role is not going to see Kagawa become one of the world's best. Moyes is clearly not a fan of the luxury player and prefers a more contributive player to the team defensively- as Rooney does.
But out on the left, Kagawa is wasted and may need to consider a move away from Old Trafford to play regularly and fulfil his true potential.
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