Of all the players to have suffered under the David Moyes regime at Manchester United, there’s few who endured such hopeless frustration as Shinji Kagawa.
The Japan international toiled to little avail under Sir Alex Ferguson, following his move from Borussia Dortmund, but never in his footballing career will he have been so quickly sapped of his self-confidence as a player than when Moyes took charge. In his own words there were times when he believed his “spirit would break.”
A grand total of 18 Premier League appearances were afforded to the 25-year-old this term, and many of them were from the bench. With the exception of Wilfried Zaha, there’s virtually no individual who will have felt so isolated at Old Trafford since Ferguson’s decision to step down.
In essence, and in what has become an extremely rare happening, United took a promising European footballer and made him worse than he was when he arrived.
For that reason, whilst the vast majority of United’s contingent can now look forward to a prosperous future in the form of the imminent arrival of Louis van Gaal, it’s without a shred of doubt that I can say Kagawa should be hitting the exit button. Whether it’s back to Dortmund to rebuild his reputation under Jurgen Klopp, or risking the wrath of the Old Trafford faithful by switching to another Premier League side, the former Bundesliga dazzler simply has to concede defeat in his battle to be acknowledged at United.
First and foremost there’s the fact that the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Whilst those four players are at the club there’s not really much room for manoeuvre with regards to giving struggling perennial substitutes a crack at the whip, and you’d be a fool to think Van Gaal won’t have his own agenda in terms of transfer dealings when he does arrive.
In fact of all the players the Dutch coach has been tipped to coax into following him to the red half of Manchester, only Mats Hummels and Luke Shaw wouldn’t be a direct competitor to Kagawa for a starting position.
The likes of Marco Reus, Edinson Cavani, Toni Kroos, Adam Lallana and William Carvalho all go about their business in a similar area of the pitch to the diminutive playmaker, and you can be sure that the money required to purchase any of those players would guarantee their standing at the top of the ladder when it comes to game time.
For me Kagawa needs to call it quits at Old Trafford and head for pastures new in order to realise his true potential. He’s simply far too good to be utilised only as a glorified reserve, and unless I’m horribly missing my mark that’s exactly what he will continue to be should he remain under Van Gaal.