Louis van Gaal’s comments forced Shinji Kagawa to seek a move away from Manchester United, eventually swapping the Premier League for the Bundesliga and re-joining old club Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl has revealed that Kagawa was already finding life difficult at Old Trafford since his move in 2012, but comments made to him by Van Gaal were the final straw.
Manchester United’s new manager has made a number of changes to the playing staff and the Japan international was one of 17 departures this summer before the transfer window closed.
As well as shipping out lots of unwanted players, Van Gaal got the club to spend the best part of £150million on bringing in new players. They broke the British transfer record with the £59.7million purchase of Angel di Maria from Real Madrid, while the season-long loan signing of Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco on deadline day was probably the most high profile.
Kehl suggested that Van Gaal and the other Manchester United staff failed to show Kagawa the necessary belief to shine in the Premier League, but was in no doubt that he would receive it now that he is back at his old club.
“You could see that it was a huge relief for Shinji Kagawa,” he is quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
“It was not an easy situation for him at Manchester in the past few weeks. And then there were some comments from his coach that prompted him to return to Dortmund.
“He gets a lot of faith here. Everything that he’s been missing in the past few months, he’ll get back here again."
Didn't work out
Kagawa moved to Manchester United in the summer of 2012 for a fee in the region of £12million after being a key man in Dortmund’s league and cup double – their second league title in a row.
However, he was never able to hold down a regular place under Sir Alex Ferguson or David Moyes once he made the switch to England. There was little surprise when it was announced he would be leaving, especially after the arrivals of Juan Mata in January and Di Maria this summer.
Dortmund only had to pay a transfer fee of £6.3million to take the 25-year-old back to the Westfalenstadion, a fee that seems small for a player of his ability and age, despite the fact he has had a miserable two seasons.
Van Gaal has a number of options at his disposal with the likes of Mata, Di Maria and Ander Herrera all able to play the role of creative midfielder in the 3-5-2 formation the Dutch coach has employed since arriving at Old Trafford this summer.