Sir Alex Ferguson has completed the signing of Shinji Kagawa and the Japanese international has officially joined the stable of premier attacking options at Old Trafford. Our own @RedMancunia touched briefly on the quality of Manchester United’s wingers as compared to the rest of the league in his post here, and the addition of Kagawa to the mix should only increase the depth of attacking options already at Ferguson’s disposal. Kagawa will also add another option in the centre of the attack as he often lines-up as an attacking midfielder, just behind the forward, for his club team. He also is a potent winger, a position he has played for the Japanese national team.
The 23-year-old has a fine goal scoring record with the insrucitable statisticians at Wikipedia allowing for 86 goals in 198 club appearances to date. Manchester United has not relied on midfielder scoring much in the past four years, but the extra scoring threat brought by playmakers such as Ashley Young, Nani, Valencia and Kagawa will give added goal scoring prowess behind Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito.
While OPTA stats for Bundesliga clubs are not available on this site, various other sources have provided insight into the goal scoring, and goal making, ability of the young Japanese star. As of the the 30th of March 2012, Shinji was joint 2nd in the Bundesliga with 9 goal involvements since the start of the calendar year, as this note from William Hill states:
This game [Dortmund v VfB] will feature three of the six players with the most goal involvements (goals + assists) in 2012. Dortmund midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Jakub Blaszczykowski and VfB striker Martin Harnik have all been directly involved in nine goals since the turn of the year. Only Gladbach’s Reus and Schalke’s Huntelaar have had a hand in more goals this year (10 each).
By the completion of the 2011-12 season he rated in the Top 10 in the premier German division for both goals and assists. This past season he played an influential role for the Bundesliga Champions, a side that scored 80 goals in 34 matches while allowing only 25. That had the club top of the scoring table and 3rd in the defensive table, just three more goals allowed than best defensive side Bayern Munich. Individually, Kagawa was the second leading goal scorer for Dortmund. His 13 goals came in 29 starts (2 substitute appearances) and on just 63 shots. All stats via Soccernet.
For any midfielder, indeed for most any player, a 10 goal season is an achievement. However, the 13 goals scored by Kagawa are a particular highlight because of the duo who finished just behind him with 12 – Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry. In light of his particularly noteworthy EURO campaign, it’s worth adding that Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic also managed just 12 goals in 32 Bundesliga matches.
While Kagawa has played on the wing for his national side, he was frequently in the center of the pitch for his club side. For the club he added 8 assists in the 2011-12 season, just 4 off the pace of Ribéry and Juan Arango (12) and joint 7th with several players often held in higher regard – Thomas Müller, Claudio Pizzaro, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. This is likely accounted for in his tenacious but cultured approach to the game. Our friends at WhoScored have placed Kagawa’s pass success percentage at 83.1% for a Dortmund side that held 54.7% of possession and completed 78.9% of passes as a team. Kagawa attempted only 1169 passes on the season, at a rate of 37.7 per game (good for only 81st in the Bundesliga) but is attributed with 55 key passes. Those 55 key passes (1.8 per game) was 18th best in the league, ahead of Bastian Schweinsteiger (1.2), Renato Augusto (1.4) and Phillip Lahm (1). Kagawa also successfully completed 2 dribbles per game, 25th best in the Bundesliga. His 62 successful dribbles bested top United dribbler Nani who completed a team best 53 of his 79 dribbles attempted.
At United this past season an 83% pass completion % wouldn’t have led the list by any means, but it would keep him in quality company. While Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley (90%) and Ji-Sun Park (89%) showed a more deft touch, Ashley Young (84%), Valencia (86%) and Nani (80%) played the ball at a comparable level.
For United it will be an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third next season but, as they proved this season, some years even 89 goals are not enough to ensure the title. It will be interesting to see how Kagawa is integrated into United’s rotation as the exceptional season of Valencia, and the return to health of Tom Cleverley, as well as the continued careers of Giggs and Scholes leave fewer minutes to be shared. However, if any addition could make an instant impact it will be a player in the Kagawa mold, fitting in neatly behind one of United’s many potent forward threats.