Ahead of Saturday’s game against Hertha BSC, we will turn our focus to one man who so famously returned to Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the season and that man is Shinji Kagawa.
Borussia Dortmund fans were desperate for the resigning of Kagawa for a long time, as it became evident very early, that their lost star player didn’t work out at Manchester United. After wasting two years at Old Trafford the Japanese finally fulfilled the longing wishes and returned to Borussia Dortmund for 8 million euro in exchange.
Yet so far it hasn’t exactly played out as any BVB fan had imagined. After the magnificent debut against SC Freiburg, where Kagawa scored his first and only Bundesliga goal since his return, only disappointment followed.
Everything is different now. Kagawa’s career not a straight line anymore. When he arrived for the first time in Dortmund, he was on great form, coming from Cerezo Osaka. Nobody knew much about him and the 350.000 € transfer fee hardly put any pressure on his back. He also could ease into a prospering and upcoming side, that was already working in its fundamentals before him.
Now everyone knows who Shinji Kagawa is and the 25 year old play maker is feeling the pressure of the expectations. He returned to Dortmund when things just started to fall apart and he found the hardest conditions to return back to form.
Jürgen Klopp put it like this on Thursday’s press conference:
“The situation is, how it is. He arrived from an everything but fantastic situation at Manchester United. Here it all started well, but then it quickly wasn’t all that great anymore – then one can easily drop off the radar for a certain amount of time. Many players came sooner out of their valley;
Shinji’s first half against Anderlecht wasn’t great, but it already looked much better after half time – It’s about building confidence for the boys and it’s our job to take care of that in the few units we have on the training ground during ‘English weeks’. Shinji still has extraordinary talents, but because of the two years at Manchester United and because of our first period of the season, it would be astonishing if any player would be in top form just like that. It wasn’t good on Tuesday (against Anderlecht), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good again on Saturday. Again, they boys don’t have a disease – it’s a feeling – and the good feeling has to come back and it has to rigidify and then they can perform on maximum level again.”
It seems to be a similar issue, as it is with Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shinji Kagawa also punched air in frustration, when his shot against Anderlecht went wide. The Japanese has lost his delicate first touch and also his goal threat since he left in 2012.
It’s sad to see Kagawa hindering himself with sloppy touches and imprecise passes. He is also yet to assist a Bundesliga goal, which is the player maker’s problem in a nutshell, as he is falling short in every department of his once so lauded game.
It’s nice to know Jürgen Klopp still has faith in him, but it will probably take a while longer until the old Kagawa shines in the black and yellow dress. One can only hope the winter break will do him some good, but the Asian Cup might interfere with that. With Gündogan returning to old form and Macro Reus returning in 2015, Kagawa is in danger of falling out of favor completely in coming months.
For this stretch of the season it has to be said, that the transfer hasn’t paid off. It was a rather sentimental decision and in hindsight BVB couldn’t afford a Kagawa-rehabilitation program, as they have much greater concerns. But let’s keep the positive outlook, as the team is slowly gaining stability and eventually that will affect Dortmund’s number 7. The only question is: How long do we have to wait?