26. SHINJI KAGAWA
|Birthdate:||17 Mar 1989|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2012|
|United Debut:||20 Aug 2012 v Everton (A)|
Shinji Kagawa sealed his move to United in June 2012, agreeing a four-year contract to become the club’s first-ever Japanese player.
Kagawa is an exciting, attacking midfielder who is most at home playing ‘in the hole’ behind a centre-forward, though he’s also adept in a wide role.
He made his name in two successful seasons with Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped to a first-ever domestic Double in 2011/12.
The German side spotted his potential while playing in his homeland for Cerezo Osaka, for whom he signed professional forms before graduating from high school.
He helped Cerezo gain promotion to the J-League and scored seven goals in 11 appearances in the top flight before moving to the Bundesliga in 2010 for a bargain €350,000.
Kagawa is one the star names in what is rated by many as the best ever Japan team. His full international debut was in a Kirin Cup match against Ivory Coast in 2008 but he missed out on a place in the World Cup squad two years later.
A metatarsal injury at the 2011 Asian Cup, after shining in the tournament, interrupted his progress but he made an impressive return domestically in the 2010/11 season, scoring eight goals in 18 games to earn a place in the Bundesliga Team of the Season, despite being sidelined for a lengthy spell.
And he was a key performer as Dortmund both retained the title and lifted and German Cup in some style the following season. In addition to contributing 13 goals in the league, he scored three times in the German Cup.
Sir Alex Ferguson made a personal check on Kagawa’s form in the cup final against Bayern Munich in Berlin, where he netted the opening goal and dazzled in a convincing 5-2 win.
It didn’t take long for Shinji to make his mark at his new club, as he impressed on the Reds’ 2012 pre-season tour and scored the winner in the third game against Shanghai Shenhua.
The talented performer is an entertaining addition to the United squad and his all-action style is sure to make him a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford.