Speaking as a United fan, I must admit I am struggling to understand how the team ended up paying an extra £4million for Fellaini after refusing to pay £23million to trigger his release clause a little over a month ago is troubling to say the very least. It also doesn’t help that Moyes’ move for Athletic Bilbao’s midfield dynamo Ander Herrera Agüera is shrouded in conspiracy and has failed. With so many reports about the reasons for the deal collapsing, one thing rings true.
That United showed a great deal of ineptitude not associated with a club of its stature. After overpaying for a player we have targeted all summer and failing to land one that we need [at 24, Herrera’s capture would have addressed long-term needs at the club], surely there was no way the seemingly impotent duo of Ed Woodward [the new Manchester United Chief Executive] and David Moyes could contrive to make this the worst transfer period for United fans in recent memory right? RIGHT?
Mesut Özil signs for Arsenal in a £42.5million transfer deadline move. All indications suggested that the player had a preference for Old Trafford and as Fergie proved with RVP’s signing, when players of a certain caliber become available, you make a move for them. Throw in the fact that Moyes’ has ‘unlimited transfer funds available to him’, his words not mine and as a fan you begin to wonder what the game plan for United is this season. This article is not to explore the shortcoming of Moyes and his team during the transfer window.
No, there has been enough about that written on soccersouls. The point of this article is to try make sense of the only transfer move [or rather lack of move] that I can make an argument for. No this is not about our newly-acquired but overpriced Belgian destroyer nor is it about the failed Herrera move. This article has more modest aspirations than that, the goal of the remainder of this article is to justify Moyes’ refusal to move for Özil when he became available during the transfer window and my defense centers around the club’s diminutive Japanese playmaker.
Kagawa is yet to feature competitively and it cannot be because he is injured. Other than lacking match-fitness and appearing in the starting 11, there seems to be absolutely no issue with the player. United captured a player that has the potential to rival the best playmakers in the world and yes, that includes a certain Mesut Özil. Both play in similar positions, in the hole behind the striker. Football lingo for they are both attacking midfielders. Özil can play as a forward on the right whiles Kagawa has been deployed on the left of midfield at United and Japan on a few occasions.
Clearly both players are flexible and offer some versatility which their managers can exploit but the fact remains that playing as their side’s attacking midfielder is their preferred position and that is where they do the most damage. Both players’ game are characterized by their preference for short passes and layoffs as well as their shortcomings in the air and defensive contribution. Though Kagawa has been more focused on his defensive duties the few times he appeared in a United shirt last season. Özil has the upper hand when it comes to crossing the ball and his set-piece deliveries offer an offensive threat that Kagawa is yet to develop. That said, Kagawa can match Özil when it comes to his ability to split open defenses with a killer through ball and is quite an accomplished and composed finisher. Like his German counterpart, he is notoriously difficult to disposes and can trouble any keeper with a shot from outside the 6yard box.
I will be the first to admit that Özil is in an elite class of playmakers but you are deluded if you think Kagawa is that far behind. And with both playmakers the same age [i.e. 24yrs], Moeys’ refusal to sign Özil is perhaps an unspoken faith in Kagawa’s ability to fill the playmaking role at United. God knows we need some creative spark. Moyes has shown great resolve in refusing to allow Rooney to force a transfer and now he must do the same in installing Kagawa as the team’s de facto creator-in-chief. Give him a 10+ run of games and let his results justify his further inclusion.
It is not for nothing the #FreeShinji movement gathered some steam and support—it is because in Kagawa, United have an unused creative force. Yes we have RVP but as the Liverpool game showed, even he needs help getting the ball to his feet and in his preferred position. Whatever reason Moyes’ has for not starting Kagawa, it is by playing him that fans can excuse the fact that we failed to sign the German maestro. Whether this was Moyes’ plan when opting to not place a bid for Özil, this article deduces that a long-term role for Kagawa is the only logical reason to behave like United did when news that Mesut was available became known.
This article subscribes wholly to the #FreeShinji movement but instead of sending him to another team, I am advocating for him to be unleashed on a Manchester United shirt on all our opponents. Free Shinji Kagawa Moyes, free him now.
For the photos:
1. Freddie Mecury/Kagawa
Credit to @BeardedGenius for his Freddie Mercury take on the #FreeShinji movement on twitter.
2. Shinji behind bars
Credit to the Broussia Dortmond fans who started the #FreeShinji campaign to Twitter.