Comment: If Manchester United forward Shinji Kagawa is to return to Borussia Dortmund - the time is now

The Japan international has spoken of a desire to return to his former club 'one day'

There was a time when Borussia Dortmund were resigned to losing their best players. A rising star would develop in Westphalia, only to disappear into the various metropolises of Spain, England and Bavaria – never to be seen again.

To an extent the same still holds. BVB's incredible achievements over the last few years have been made all the more impressive by the fact that they periodically lose their most influential player. Nuri Şahin departed for Madrid after leading Dortmund to the title in 2011, Shinji Kagawa packed his bags for Manchester last summer, and now even Mario Götze has headed south to Munich.

But while they have a penchant for losing key players, Dortmund also seem to be developing a knack for attracting them back. Şahin's miserable experiences in Madrid and Liverpool saw him welcomed like the prodigal son upon his return to Dortmund last January. Marco Reus' signing from Borussia Mönchengladbach was a similar homecoming, the German international having grown up and spent most of his youth career in Dortmund. And now, the word is, Shinji Kagawa is looking for a return as well.

As Bild reported in the early hours of this morning, Kagawa declared on Japanese TV that he has considered a reunion with his former employers. "It has not been a good season for me at Manchester United, and if Dortmund were willing, I'd like to return one day."

The phrase "one day" may seem suitably vague to avoid thoughts of an immediate return, but Kagawa will know that if he is to regain his former status at the Westfalenstadion, a return this summer may be his best option. With Götze gone, the Japanese international would find himself thrown into a direct contest with new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the vacant role at the head of the midfield. If he were to wait too long, he may find himself unable to establish himself in that fight.

That much has certainly been true of Şahin, whose time away from Dortmund, albeit less successful than Kagawa's has been so far, was also plagued by injury. While his arrival at BVB in January may have been greeted with unadulterated joy, the Turkish midfielder has struggled thus far to find his previous brilliance in a BVB shirt, and has largely been little more than a back up for the rapidly improving Ilkay Gündoğan.

Should Kagawa return under the wing of Jürgen Klopp, he would do well to bear Şahin's story in mind. For while Dortmund are never happy to lose players of his calibre, they have shown with their poaching and nurturing of players like Gündoğan that they are second to none in the art of replacing superstars.

For Kagawa himself, it would be in many respects a shame to give up on his United dream so soon. The season may indeed have been hard, and he certainly has not had the same influence at Old Trafford that he did in his parting season in Dortmund, but it is worth remembering just how little time he has spent there. The first of his two years at BVB was similarly underwhelming, hindered as it was by the difficulties of injury and squad competition. It has been the same story at United, and there is little reason to believe that he cannot accelerate there as he did in his second season in Germany.

If he is to cut and run, however, it must be now. The success of Jürgen Klopp has been built on his and his team's remarkable powers of renewal, and those who leave, however good, often find themselves with no way back in. If Kagawa leaves it too long before heading back to the Ruhr, he may, like Şahin, be in danger of becoming one of the great lost potentials of European football.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand labelled 'left-wing commie scum' by Fox News
TV
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
BBC's Antiques Roadshow uncovers a TIE fighter pilot helmet from the 1977 Star Wars film, valuing it at £50,000
TV

TV presenter Fiona Bruce seemed a bit startled by the find during the filming of Antiques Roadshow

News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past