Jurgen Klopp: Kagawa is one of the best players I have worked with

by Sam Peoples

Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has called Shinji Kagawa “one of the best players” he has worked with this week.

Shinji Kagawa might not be lighting up the Premier League as quickly as fans had hoped for but he is certainly receiving high praise from the managers who work with him closely.

In two years with the German champions, Kagawa scored 21 goals in 49 appearances despite having bad injury problems, quickly becoming one of the best playmakers in the league and Klopp feels that Kagawa isn’t playing to his full potential at Manchester United just yet.

Speaking to Japanese TV, he said: “Shinji is one of the best players that I have had a chance to work with. A fantastic person, a fantastic athlete, and he is really a great young man.

“Watching him play now I feel that he still isn’t the old Shinji. The stability in his play hasn’t returned and I can’t see the confidence that he had when he was here (in Dortmund). But because he possesses outstanding ability, he’ll be able to have an impact anywhere in the world.

“I still haven’t given up the hope that he will someday return to play with me once again. May it be here, or any other club around the world, I would want to work with him again.”

It isn’t just Jurgen Klopp who has been singing his praises this week with Sir Alex Ferguson staunchly defending his progress in the Premier League so far, pointing towards a complete change in style that is causing the transitional problems for Kagawa.

“The difference between German and English football is that in Germany you can’t foul,” he said.

“You are not allowed to touch anyone in Germany, so he [Kagawa] has come from that environment to the Premier League which is totally different.

“There is a physicality to our game which is different from Germany, but next year he’ll be better. I thought in the first half-hour [against Real] he was terrific and he was making some great runs through them.

“We thought that was going to be one of our biggest assets in the game, someone to play in the second balls and he was just unlucky with a couple of heavy touches on the ball. But he kept on opening them up and if people don’t see that, it’s actually unfair, but he did really well for us in the first half.”

Unfortunately for Kagawa, an injury sustained in November during a Champions League match against Braga came at a bad time and it has set him back in his first season in the Premier League.

However, flashes of his individual brilliance have been creeping in and United fans are starting to see glimpses of why we paid £18 million for him in the summer.

Time and patience is key for any new player coming into the Premier League but if Kagawa can find his form going into the run-in this season, United could be unstoppable. The thought of having Rooney, Kagawa and Van Persie all playing together and on form is enough to whet anyone’s whistle.