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Manchester United today have announced today that they have agreed a transfer fee with Borussia Dortmund to bring Japanese attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa to the club. With personal terms already agreed upon also, what should be the formalities of getting a work permit and passing a medical are the only objects to the Old Trafford club adding their first new face of the summer.
Negotiations between Sir Alex Ferguson’s men and the German champions have been ongoing for a number of weeks, and it has always seemed like a matter of when rather than if the playmaker would make the move to the Premier League. Kagawa was offered a new contract at Signal Iduna Park but rejected this as his heart on a switch to big English club.
United are believed to be ready to part with £12 million to sign the skilful attacker, with this potentially rising to £17 million with add-ons dependant on performances. With Kagawa in the last year of his contract with Dortmund, one feels that it has been the Bundesliga outfit who have been playing hard ball in negotiations, and that they have received a sizeable fee for a player who would leave on a free transfer next summer, and who they only paid €350,000 for two years ago.
So what can we expect from Kagawa? The Japanese attacking midfielder will be charged with reinvigorating a United midfield that has received criticism for being too stagnant and lacking energy in recent times. Kagawa however has energy in abundance, and although he may start from wide areas, likes to cut inside and get thoroughly involved with the play. Off the ball the 23-year-old is a threat also, and his movement and willingness to get into dangerous areas will be a boost for the 2010-11 Premier League champions.
Last term was arguably Kagawa’s most impressive to date, as he continued to impress in the Bundesliga and fleetingly in the Champions League. The Asian superstar also started to add a goal-threat to his game, and the 16 goals he bagged in all competitions were thoroughly important in Jurgen Klopp’s men winning a domestic double. Sir Alex will hope that his new signing can get close to this tally next term and take the goal-scoring burden partly away from Wayne Rooney and his existing attacking counterparts.
Kagawa is an excellent prospect that is more than good enough to step out for Manchester United, and if he had not moved to Old Trafford it would almost be certain that he would represent another big European club next season. Despite this, the more cynical observer will question how important the potential commercial advantages that come part and parcel of signing Asia’s current most famous player were in the deal. It is true that United have reaped the financial benefits of having Ji-Sung Park in their playing squad for the last seven years, with the club’s popularity in South Korea and indeed Asia through the roof.
As the first ever Japanese player to play for Manchester United Kagawa will undoubtedly drive commercial benefits in the Far East, which is an added bonus for the Red Devils. With cross-town rivals Manchester City claiming the Premier League title this term and Chelsea on a superstar recruitment drive, England’s traditional leading light will have an eye on ensuring its global popularity and boosting its fanbase, and the signing of Kagawa will certainly be a victory off the pitch for United.
That said, Ji-Sung Park would not have lasted as long for United if he did not contribute on the pitch; Sir Alex simply would not stand for it. Kagawa’s commercial benefit may well have been taken into consideration before the decision to sign him was made, but the new United hero will be charged with playing a part in a revival on the pitch for the Red Devils and will add impetus and enthusiasm to an ageing midfield contingent.