Bundesliga expert Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) will now be regularly writing for The Peoples Person on the latest news and rumours coming out of Germany.
The story of Shinji Kagawa and Borussia Dortmund is a real zero to hero tale and although the playmaker left the Westfalenstadion for Manchester United in 2012, Dortmund fans, and the player himself, are not convinced that his romance with the club that transformed him from Japanese second division talent to world-class star is over.
“One day I will return to Dortmund, if they agree to it,” The Telegraph quotes Kagawa as having told Japanese television last July.
“The door is always open for Shinji,” the same article quoted Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watkze as having told Bild.
Dortmund and Kagawa want to be re-united. The relevant question to ask is when and how this reunion can occur.
Kagawa left Dortmund to pursue his dream of playing at Manchester United but after not being a major part of either Sir Alex Ferguson’s nor David Moyes’ plans at United, his patience is surely waning.
He and his agent will have to have serious talks with the next United manager, be it Louis van Gaal or otherwise, to determine what role he can expect to play at the club.
Considering the wholesale changes expected at Old Trafford following such a disappointing 2013-14 season, Kagawa may be headed for an exit on loan, if not a permanent sale.
If the 25-year-old is made available, the question of how he’d fit in at Dortmund becomes a serious consideration. Kagawa is adored by Dortmund fans and to this day, his name likeness can be found on scarves and flags among the club’s nostalgic supporters.
However, at the same time, Kagawa plays in a position that is already well-occupied at Dortmund. Juergen Klopp is well aware that his former playmaking prodigy is a natural No. 10 whose skills are not very adaptable to playing on the wing. Dortmund may have appeared to have good use for a new central playmaker a month ago when Henrikh Mkhitaryan was struggling, but they have already found one in Marco Reus.
Since being shifted to the position he occupied while at Gladbach, Reus has averaged exactly one goal and one assist per game in five fixtures.
And although a Reus/Kagawa swap would be favorable to many United fans, Dortmund will be reluctant to part ways with their most prized asset. Reus’ €35 million buy-out clause only takes effect in 2015, and the Ruhr side are determined to eliminate that provision by offering him a raise, with Bild reporting a €7 million annual salary in discussion.
Dortmund are instead looking to bolster their attack with a player who is more of a striker-type than Kagawa, a goal-getter who can play as a lone forward and potentially on the wing. Alvaro Morata and Josip Drmic have been linked with moves to Dortmund, although Bild recently reported that the Ruhr side have a 70 percent chance of signing Ciro Immobile. Kagawa is ranked a distant second at 25 percent.
For Kagawa to return to Dortmund as soon as this summer, it would require the player swallowing his pride, United deciding to offload him and Dortmund failing to get the type of player they want.
Anything is possible in the transfer market but the next chapter in the Kagawa/Dortmund affair may still be some distance in the future. In the likely event Kagawa leaves United this summer, expect him to try his luck at another Premier League side.