Shinji Kagawa can already claim to be one of Japan's most successful exports to European football. He only left his homeland last summer but was part of Borussia Dortmund's thrilling Bundesliga winners last season. Despite injuries, the 22-year-old was influential as Dortmund won their first title for nine years, and, like his team-mates, has caught the eye of some of Europe's biggest clubs.
Signed from Cerezo Osaka of the J-League last summer, Kagawa cost Dortmund just under £300,000. He briskly made himself known to English supporters last August, scoring in a 3-1 friendly win over Manchester City. That form continued into the new season and, after two goals against Karabakh Agdam in the Europa League, team-mate Nuri Sahin was moved to claim that Kagawa "plays like an angel".
He is certainly gifted, and in precisely the ways that would be most useful to Manchester United. Should Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric or Samir Nasri prove unobtainable, Kagawa may be an attractive alternative.
Kagawa played both in the hole and from the left of Dortmund's 4-2-3-1. His footwork and balance are excellent, and he is capable of late runs into the penalty area as well as taking chances he carves out for himself.