Remember Shinji Kagawa? He’s back, scoring absolute blooters against PSG

Ten years have passed since Shinji Kagawa reached the zenith of his career, lifting the Premier League trophy with Manchester United. Now he’s back, scoring absolute worldies against PSG.

The Japanese winger was not one of the stars of Manchester United’s last league title victory, but he played more of a role than many remember. That was his debut season at Old Trafford, and he made 17 league starts, notching six goals – including a fine hat-trick against Norwich – and three assists.

This was the third successive major European league title triumph of Kagawa’s career, having shone in Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side. When Sir Alex Ferguson signed him for a £12million fee, there was hope the Japanese winger could nail down a legacy as one of Asian football’s all-time greatest exports.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was working with such a legend. Now I have a much better understanding of who he is. To be honest, I enjoyed my first year at Manchester United. We won the title, although it was mostly due to Robin van Persie’s endeavours,” Kagawa later recalled of his time in Manchester in an interview with De Morgan.

“The transfer to England was not always simple, and there were occasions when I had uncertainties. A new language, system, coach, and atmosphere are all being introduced. Ferguson departed after my first year, something I had not anticipated”

Rather than kick on from that collectively great but individually so-so 2012-13 season, Kagawa’s career stalled from there. David Moyes lost faith in him, and he failed to score in 27 appearances under the Scottish coach as United toiled to their lowest placing of the Premier League era.

Kagawa promptly returned to Dortmund, where he made almost a hundred appearances in his second stint and won a DFB Pokal, but never quite reached the same heights as the first time round – particularly after the departure of Klopp.

Then came the nomadic years. The classic journeyman path. A loan at Besiktas. A stint in the Spanish second tier with Real Zaragoza. Eighteen underwhelming months with PAOK and a short-lived stint in Belgium with Sint-Truidense before returning to Japan earlier this year to rejoin his boyhood club Cerezo Osaka at the age of 33.

Now he’s reminding us all of his existence with an absolute peach of a strike, the match-winner in a 3-2 pre-season victory over PSG.

Akio Kogiku, the man who scouted his as a teenager and launched his professional career, is now his coach. Kagawa is one of the experienced leaders in the Cerezo dressing room, having previously been their fresh-faced rising star.

“I have a strong desire to develop more. I will show what I currently have on the pitch,” Kagawa said upon his return.

“I’m picturing in my head every day how I can produce new things by joining.”

Kagawa’s wonderful curling effort past Gianluigi Donnarumma might have been the kind of thing he was dreaming of – it might have only been a friendly, but it served as a reminder of the quality he always possessed.

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