On Friday Manchester United broke their club record transfer fee as they shelled out £37 million for former Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata in a move which signaled a clear intent of injecting a team who clearly is in need of a morale boost after their latest setback of the season in losing to Sunderland in the semifinals of the Capital One Cup. In Mata, David Moyes is getting one of the best midfielders in the game whose only reason for not playing this season was he did not fit or figure into the way Jose Mourinho likes to play.
With the arrival of a player like Mata to a team like Manchester United, this inevitably means that a current player on the squad will see their role and playing time diminished as a result. In this case, it is Shinji Kagawa who will be the player most affected. And to take it a step further, we can say that because of the arrival of Juan Mata to the Old Trafford outfit, Kagawa’s days are numbered with the team.
Now it is highly unlikely for Kagawa to be shipped out here in the final week of the Winter transfer window, but it should be of no surprise that come the summer Kagawa will be sold when the transfer activity picks up after the World Cup. And in all honesty, it will be for the best. Looking at where Juan Mata is likely to play, he will be a central playmaking role in the midfield right behind and supporting the lone striker or strikers on the field. Even though Mata can drift to the wing, he is a player who’s at home and ease in the middle.
Ironically enough, this is the same position in which Kagawa has shined, and it is his play as a central playmaking midfielder that led Manchester United to sign him from German club Borussia Dortmund back in the summer of 2012. Yet for a variety of reasons, whether it be Moyes or Sir Alex Ferguson, Kagawa has often been deployed as a winger, a position which does not suit his qualities nor allow him to be able to play at his best. It is no coincidence that in his 29 Premier League games so far in his Manchester United career, Kagawa’s best performances have come when he’s played the central playmaking role supporting the striker(s).
Now Kagawa finds himself in a situation where the club has brought in a player who plays the same position and is a better player than him. With this in mind, Kagawa will see his playing time decrease for the rest of the 2013-14 season, and it is highly likely his days as a player for Mancester United are numbered.