Man Utd are another team, like Chelsea, who in my mind definitely needed to sign Luka Modric.  I mean when Wigan get 60% possession against you, you’ve got to start thinking about whether you should be keeping the ball better.  The fact that SAF got Scholes back from retirement and the impact Scholes had just shows how desperately the issue needed to be resolved.  Michael Carrick isn’t the answer, that’s been recognised.  So I was somewhat surprised when Shinji Kagawa was signed.

From what Ive seen of him hes seems a tricky dribbling goalscoring midfielder rather than a distributor.  Normally good in fantasy premier league but for United? A cynical person would say it was a self financing deal on the back of shirt sales but he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Statistics and Career to date

Shinji is 23 and 5’7″, and born in Kobe, Japan.

Between 2206-2010 he played 125 games for minnow side Cerezo Osaka racking up 55 goals including 27 in 44 games in the 2010 season.

He transferred to Dortmund at a cheap price of 350,000 euros due to a release clause and made his debut in August 2010.

In his first season at Dortmund he made 17 starts plus 1 as sub scoring 8 times with 1 assist.  A pretty reasonable return in his first season. this equates to an event (goal or assist) every 152 minutes which is reasonable fantasy premier league stuff for such a big step up.

However 2011-2012 was his breakthrough year as Dortmund became Champions.  He scored 13 goals with 8 assists in 29 starts plus 2 as sub.  This is an event every 114 minutes which is exceptional for a midfielder.  Even Dempsey, the benchmark fantasy premier league midfielder,  was only an event every 138 minutes.

A BBC Sport article gave a very useful, if rather gushing, view of his talents so I’m pasting it below

“Watching from the stands in Berlin’s Olympic stadium, Sir Alex Ferguson could hardly disguise his excitement on viewing the player in action during the 5-2 destruction of Bayern Munich in the DFB Cup final in May.

Kagawa scored the opener and was involved in every Dortmund attack that evening.

After an impressive first season in Germany that came to an abrupt halt when he broke a metatarsal on duty with Japan in the Asian Cup in January 2011, Kagawa was so good in 2011-12 that the enforced four-month absence of Mario Götze, the biggest prodigy in Germany football, hardly registered.

The numbers alone bear witness to his enormous impact. Kagawa netted 17 in all competitions and set up 13 goals to become the league’s most efficient and best attacking midfielder, ahead of Bayern’s Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.

“He’s simply a great footballer,” said team-mate Mats Hummels. “His movement is insane. I wouldn’t like to play against him.”

Dortmund were resigned to losing Kagawa when the player told them he wouldn’t renew his contract beyond 2013, to follow his dream to play in England instead.

His game certainly appears tailor-made for the Premier League – he’s an incessant runner who takes up intelligent positions between defensive lines, often drifts wide out left and he attacks the box with explosive bursts of pace.

Kagawa Bundesliga stats

Games : 49

Goals : 21

Shots : 87

On target : 54

Assists : 9

Chances created : 78

Pass completion : 82%

Yellow cards : 3

Red cards : 0

Despite his slender frame, he’s strong enough to hold off defenders and can keep the ball in tight spots. His finishing has become one of his strongest assets, along with his ability to play in team-mates with direct, one-touch passes, but he’s very much a man for the final third, a player who finds space between the lines and gets on the end of things.

Despite some reports, he is not a Japanese version of Tottenham’s Luka Modric because pulling the strings in the centre of the pitch is not his game.

His ideal position is behind the main striker but, for the national team, he mostly plays wide left in a 4-2-3-1 formation to accommodate Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow). His incredible work-rate and defensive discipline would make it possible for him to play on the left in a 4-4-2 as well, but his talents would probably come out more in the fluidity of a 4-2-3-1 system.

Apart from a much-needed injection of youth, pace and directness into United’s midfield, Kagawa also offers tremendous defensive capabilities.

At Dortmund, he was perfect for the highly aggressive “Gegenpressing” tactic employed by manager Jürgen Klopp – the Black and Yellow instantly pressed the ball after conceding possession in the opposition half.”

The stats are certainly interesting from a fantasy premier league perspective.  The goals to shots ratio is very good, up there with the best midfielders and the on target ratio is phenomenal. The chances created to assists is good without being an overperformance.

Prospects for next season

SAF likes t play 4-4-2 with a striker high up the pitch and Rooney dropping off.  Valencia will stay wide and high up the pitch to be an outlet with the focus on getting behind the defence to create goal scoring options.  The other winger will often cut in  and play as an attacking midfielder which is why Leighton Baines is being looked at to attack the space on the left flank when this happens.  My first impression is that these 3 players may crowd each other out in the same space.    Its also hard to think that SAF will hand the pivotal midfield position to someone untested in the league.  Only preseason maches will tell for us fantasy premier league managers.  I imagine he will come in at 9.0-10.0 in the barclays fantasy premier league format which isn’t cheap. Its a pretty good start for United,  Everton away then 3 relatively easy games of Fulham H Southampton A Wigan H followed by 2 difficult games.  I will probably be looking for 1 united midfielder in fantasy premier league but would I go for him over the other proven 3 even allowing for the rotation risk.  Preseason for United will be very interesting