Jurgen Klopp has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson still has strong admiration for Shinji Kagawa and believes the midfielder suffered misfortune in his career at Manchester United.
The 25-year-old was bought by Sir Alex in his last year as United manager and was never able to build on his promise under David Moyes through a combination of a lack of appearances and a lack of performances when the opportunity arose.
Kagawa has since returned to Germany to a heroes welcome from Borussia Dortmund fans who chanted his name to make him feel back at home, before Kagawa obliged by scoring on his return.
Klopp has always been a public admirer of Kagawa and told The Sun an opportunity to re-sign him this summer for £8m was too good to turn down.
“He’s still in love with Shinji,” Klopp said.
“He told me: ‘Shame we didn’t manage this well so that it worked out for him. We were satisfied in the first year.’ And in the second year you usually make the next step but he didn’t manage to do it. But Sir Alex was saying: ‘Shame we should have made this work.’
“His first year at Man United was the last year of Sir Alex Ferguson. It is not the year when you will evolve – all you want is results and titles. The second year is the first of a new coach. Again, it is about results. The third manager had a new philosophy, a very successful philosophy, and maybe he did not fit. We saw the chance and we took it.”
Klopp is right in that Kagawa was unlucky at times with United. Seen by many as Rooney’s replacement as his relationship seemed untenable with Sir Alex but instead of Rooney leaving as many expected, Sir Alex retired.
However, Kagawa simply didn’t take advantage of his own opportunities when they were presented while other players around him did.
There’s no doubt Kagawa will flourish again back in the Bundesliga but as much as luck wasn’t on his side in Manchester, he simply didn’t fulfil his own potential and that was down to him more than anybody else.