Jurgen Klopp is always amusing. In this brilliant interview with the Guardian-- in which the Borussia Dortmund manager waxes lyrical on a wide range of topics from his time at the club -- he has this to say about his former playmaker Shinji Kagawa:
"Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United - on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes. Central midfield is Shinji's best role. He's an offensive midfielder with one of the best noses for goal I ever saw. But for most Japanese people it means more to play for Man United than Dortmund. We cried for 20 minutes, in each others' arms, when he left."
Klopp is amazing. Shinji is amazing. But the playmaker's debut season at Old Trafford wasn't as amazing as it could have been.
United have never had a player in the Sir Alex Ferguson era quite like the Japanese playmaker so that probably somewhat explains why the club and player never fully gelled this season. In addition, there was the complication of former talisman Wayne Rooney being given every opportunity to make the No.10 role his last season after the arrival of Robin van Persie -- clearly the best No.9 in England at the time. Furthermore, with Kagawa new to the Premier League, it's understandable if Fergie wanted to ease the transition for the player into England.
There were flashes of genius, though, and the obvious hope is that David Moyes brings it out of Kagawa on a consistent basis starting next season. If Rooney departs, then the former Dortmund player should have a full-time platform to display his brilliance in what Klopp says Shinji's best role is. Even if the Englishman stays, one could certainly make the argument that United are better off with the Japanese international being first-choice as the No.10.
I agree with 'Kloppo' -- Shinji's best position is as a No.10 and he certainly has an eye for goal (this is something those that watched Dortmund while Shinji was there will be fully aware of). And his talent is incredibly obvious, particularly his movement and the vision that enables him to pick out incisive passes. Like Klopp, my heart will also be broken if the playmaker doesn't end up thriving at Old Trafford because he wasn't properly used. I hope this doesn't turn into another Juan Sebastian Veron situation.