The Manchester United squad is, we are being told, on the verge of a major overhaul. So welcome to The Purge, a new regular series in which the three heads that make up TBB will have their say on those players that are in danger of being ushered out of Old Trafford.
The Purge, Episode #2: Shinji Kagawa
If making a decision solely on his performances since joining United, I think selling would be a pretty easy decision. But I've still got a niggling feeling — possibly a feeling known as naive and blind optimism — that there's still more to come from Kagawa, especially after the sacking of David Moyes.
He's the kind of technical player who doesn't really suit the direct styles of Moyes and his predecessor, and hence he's regularly been made to look a little lightweight and ill-suited to the Premier League, save for the occasional flash of fluid magnificence with Juan Mata. But with a footballing revolution hopefully on the horizon, I'm still clinging to the hope he'll be able to show the kind of form he displayed both at Borussia Dortmund and with Japan.
A lot, of course, depends on who'll be the next United boss, and whether he can integrate Kagawa into his plans. If it is Louis van Gaal, who likes his wingers wide and his attacking midfielders to be brilliant playmaking-scoring-generally-running-the-show Dennis Bergkamps, then it may well be best to sell and reinvest — unless he sees enough in Kagawa to tweak his system. But until we see such evidence, I'm hoping we'll yet manage to squeeze more from Shinji.
Verdict: Keep, for now
Regular readers or anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I have long been an enemy of the "Kagawa is being misused" camp. He had a pretty underwhelming first season and the expectation that he was suddenly going to be much better the next year wasn't really based on anything except wishful thinking.
Now, there were many players who did this under David Moyes, but it doesn't excuse it &mdash far too often this year, Kagawa simply didn't try. He was completely anonymous and even when he was good, you got an hour out of him at most. There was the promise of Ka-Ma-Zaj, but with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie available that's not going to be a starting option, particularly with Danny Welbeck being required to lend some pace and pressing up front and the potential arrival of Edinson Cavani or, you would hope, a winger in the summer.
If Kagawa could play a bit-part role, coming into the team as and when necessary and playing across the front three, then we should definitely keep him. But he quite clearly cannot or will not do that — we might as well cash in since he's not going to displace Mata, Januzaj or, regrettably, Rooney. Reinvesting the money in a proper winger who isn't Nani, Young or Valencia would be far better for the squad.
There are three arguments in favour of keeping Shinji Kagawa. The first is that he's obviously quite a talented footballer, albeit one that has only shown glimpses and suggestions since moving to Old Trafford. But those glimpses and suggestions, particularly the recent and pleasing manner in which he's meshed with Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj, are probably just about enough to justify him getting another season.
The second is that watching people argue about Kagawa — whether he is, on the one hand, a sublimely gifted ultra-modern uber-hip super-cool footballer who has been horribly misused by two managers or, on the other hand, a chancer who has been promoted above his ability and needs to be shipped back to Germany post-haste — is quite funny for anybody that falls in the middle.
The third is that of the long list of players knocking around United's squad that play in the same or similar positions, almost all of them need moving on before he does. Kagawa over Young, happily; Kagawa over Nani, sadly; Kagawa over Valencia, if only to end the right-back experiments. So, by virtue of curiosity, entertainment and practicality, he stays. Unless Jürgen Klopp is so desperate to liberate him from his left-wing hell, and return him to Dortmund's loving bosom, that he's willing to part-swap him for somebody better. Come on, Jürgen. Do the right thing.
Verdict: Keep, unless Klopp comes calling.
Do add your thoughts and votes below ...