Louis Van Gaal may have only been officially in charge of the United team since the 16th July but its clear from the 4 games that have been played, his team selections have shown he is prepared to give every player a chance to stake a claim for a spot in his team. The former Dutch coach has changed the formation to a 3-4-3 to compensate for the unbalance in his squad, stating in interviews how he has 4 number 10’s. He has also been quoted saying how he would like to change Shinji Kagawa from a number 10 to a number 6 or 8 (a more central midfield position) to help alleviate this predicament .
Since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2012 Shinji Kagawa has struggled to cement a place in the Red Devils starting 11, this is down to a combination of reasons.Starting most games on the bench,when selected he was played out of position and the occasional injury have all contributed to the current issue of whether the Japanese international should stick it out at Old Trafford for another season in an attempt to establish himself in the starting line up .
In the 2 seasons Kagawa has been at Manchester, when selected he has found himself playing on the left wing of a traditional 4-4-2, rather than his favoured position of behind the striker, which is where he played for Dortmund. He may play in this position when representing his country at international level but this is part of a 4-2-3-1 where the attacking 3 will have the freedom to come inside and the fluidity to interchange positions between each other. Yet at United, playing under both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, neither manager gave him the No.10 role for any a length of time which would allow him to make the position his own. By what we have heard from the current manager it doesn’t look like that going to happen under him either.
Kagawa does have some of the attributes needed for a central midfield role, he has great stamina and work rate. His passing and dribbling are excellent with the vision and ability to turn defence into attack. That said he does lack the physicality needed to be an enforcing, dominant midfielder that United really need. Van Gaal does have previous for altering a players position and it being successful, most notably Bastian Schweinsteiger. The 2014 World Cup winner was switched by Van Gaal from the flank to central midfield during his tenure over the Bundesliga giants. Schweinsteiger is now considered one of the best players in that position at both club and international level. Also having witnessed the most unlikely resurgence of Ashley Young, it would be foolish to dismiss the chances of this kind of transformation working out for Kagawa.
If it does not work out for Kawaga at United he will join a long list of players, the likes of Juan Veron, Kleberson, Gabriel Obertan, Zoran Tosic and the notorious Bebe, who signed for United but it didn’t work out for one reason or another. It is rare for a player to leave United and turn their career around but not impossible. Diego Forlan’s career took off once he left united. Having successful spells in La Liga with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, he was voted best player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Shinji Kagawa’s qualities are undeniable and should he decide to leave the Manchester United he will have plenty of options, most notably from former club Borussia Dortmund. Manager Jurgen Klopp has made it no secret his despair at the situation Kagawa is in and would offer a route out of the premiership. This may be appealing to Kagawa, knowing that Klopp would utilise him correctly and get the best out of him. With Van Gaal it is unlikely that Kagawa will be selected to play on the left wing, out of position.
With the likes of Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and even Wayne Rooney vying for the No.10 role Kagawa must weigh up the risk or either adapting to the No.6/8 role or he will end up spending another season sat on the bench.