ESPN yesterday reported an interview with Jurgen Klopp in which he said: “it breaks my heart to see Shinji Kagawa under used and played out of position at Manchester United.”
The Japanese International signed for Manchester United last summer in a deal worth around £17 million pounds. Prior to the season, many believed that the 24-year-old could become one of the finest central attacking midfielders in European football after scoring 21 goals and 10 assists in his final season in the German Bundesliga.
However, Kagawa has struggled to find a place in the team in Manchester and has found chances to play in his preferred central role limited.
This has left the 24-year-old unable to get the run of games needed in the side to cement his position in the starting line-up.
Kagawa's craftiness and vision are perhaps his best assets; boasting an average of nearly two key passes per game and a through-ball accuracy of 55.6% whilst at Dortmund. As much admiration as Sir Alex Ferguson deserves, Jürgen Klopp makes a valid point about the positioning of his former star.
Every time Sir Alex deployed his new signing in his favoured position he has shone. His outstanding footballing brain enables him to play the simple ball, make intelligent runs and link up with team-mates Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
“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,” said Klopp.
Shinji Kagawa plays on the left wing for the Japanese national team due to the coach preferring the choice of Keisuke Honda. Understandably this could be exactly the same situation the player faces at Manchester United.
He faces stiff competition from fellow teammate and Manchester United talisman Rooney. This may have left Sir Alex Ferguson feeling that in order for Kagawa to get game time he must operate on the left wing.
David Moyes has a tough task in finding a way that he can utilise both players in the same formation. Tactically Ferguson opted for a 4-4-2 formation with the number 10 role operating as a fifth midfielder.
With that being said Kagawa best operates in a 4-2-3-1 formation – notably shown in his days in a Borussia Dortmund shirt where he could operate behind Robert Lewandowski.
This formation has become increasingly popular in European football but one that Manchester United rarely uses. With David Moyes coming in this summer to put his twist on things, the complication of Shinji Kagawa’s position is just another to add to the list.
It’s vital that the new man in charge finds a solution to this problem because Shinji Kagawa’s contribution could impact on the team’s performance by adding another goal scoring option and assisting playmaker.
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