The Japanese player became a Manchester United player on 1st July 2012 following a couple of successful seasons at Borussia Dortmund, a team highly respected in Manchester as they are widely regarded as the most attractive in terms of their approach to the beautiful game. During that spell, Kawaga was an instrumental figure in Dortmund’s midfield along with the likes of Nuri Sahim, Ilkay Gündoğan and Mario Götze.
Following his reported £17-million switch from Borussia Dortmund, Kawaga was poised to make an instant impact in the Premier League, but the Japanese star found it harder than expected acclimatizing to a new environment and playing style, with more emphasis on physique than he was used to, as German football have turned to skill rather than physical strength in recent years.
Sir Alex Ferguson opted to play him mainly as a left midfielder with limited freedom to operate all over the park, as the Scotsman find it increasingly difficult to accommodate Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Shiji Kawaga in the starting line-up. His former manager Jürgen Klopp was recently quoted as saying: “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. Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw”. Food for thought for David Moyes.
In addition, a troublesome knee injury, which ruled him out for more than two months, took its tool and Kawaga, despite showing glimpses of his undeniable quality, never fulfill his tremendous potential in his first season in England. It will be interesting to see what Moyes has in mind to make the most of one of the most exciting and intriguing players of the current Manchester United squad.