Robin van Persie is without a doubt a great player and signing for Manchester United. His world class goal against Fulham is testament to his quality and the predator instinct he’ll bring to the Red Devils. But with that said, it’s not him, nor Eden Hazard, or Santi Cazorla that will prove to be the best signing of the year and possibly for the next few years. No, this title belongs to Shinji Kagawa, the diminutive Japanese playmaker that will make the fee Sir Alex parted to get him on his squad seem a paltry amount.
Some of you may be thinking that I am a fool for picking Kagawa over Hazard, due to the Belgian’s monstrous impact for Chelsea with 6 assists and 1 goal in two games. This article is not meant to slight Hazard or any other signing, but rather meant to shed light on what I believe to be an underrated and precocious talent.
Long have United critics and fans alike been begging Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the creative player that has been missing for seemingly so many years. The Red Devils believed that they had beaten out all other clubs in the race for Hazard in one of the summer’s and in fact year’s most protracted transfer sagas, only for the fleet footed Belgian to sign for the European champions Chelsea for some 32 million pounds. For almost half the price (£12m which could rise to a reported £17m due to various add-ons), the Red Devils landed in my eyes, the player that better suits the club.
His versatility and adaptability make him all the better, although he is most potent and dangerous in the hole behind the striker. His first touch and close control ooze class, and the fact that he has and consistently delivers the final product is what really sets the Blue Samurai apart. Where you have players like Ashley Young and Nani who find it difficult to deliver week in and week out, one week making Premier League defenders look like amateur Sunday players and in the next they would struggle to even impact one of those same Sunday league matches, Shinji Kagawa is not one to shy away. His tally of 12 goals and 13 assists in the Bundesliga last season with Borussia Dortmund is a statistic that should bode well for a Manchester United side that has since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure relied so heavily on Wayne Rooney and his goals.
If you look at Ferguson’s long reign, bar a few players, the ones that really become successful at the club are those that have a high work rate and ethic. Darren Fletcher and Park Ji-Sung for example are not the most technically gifted players on the planet by any means, but they thrived, and in Fletcher’s case hopefully he’ll recover and continue to thrive, under Sir Alex because the amount they run is simply incredible. Park Three Lung was not a name mistakenly bestowed on the Korean… Kagawa has this same ethos of hard work ingrained into his DNA as evidenced by his chasing down balls that many others would have let go, and for this reason, he will not become expendable under Ferguson as Dimitar Berbatov, the silkiest player around, has become.
Almost all of his teammates and coaching staff have publicly stated their approval and given him their support, and the fact that almost everyone has come out with positives and seemingly no negatives really is testament to his quality.
One example of this is something Tom Cleverley said: “He’s brilliant. He has settled in really well. He links defence with attack. He gets on the half-turn and creates chances. I can’t speak highly enough of him. I love playing with him – one and two touch, high-energy football. We’re on the same wavelength.
One final attribute/characteristic that really makes him the signing of the year in my eyes at least is his humble and quiet nature. It helps that he can’t speak English (just kidding!)… But seriously, while Hazard was egotistically leading all the chairmen and managers of top clubs around Europe on a wild goose chase, dangling his talents in front of them and boasting, Kagawa silently went about his business waiting for his dream move to Manchester United to materialize. He is not too dissimilar to Paul Scholes in this regard, and one of the few things that almost all football fans can agree on is the fact that the Ginger Maestro is the ultimate professional, so if Kagawa ends up like him, the footballing world will be the better because of it.
There you have it. I think Shinji Kagawa will prove to be the most astute piece of business done during this transfer window, but I’d love to hear what you think. Who do you think will be or is currently the best EPL signing of the year? Leave a comment below.