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Shinji Kagawa adds attacking depth & options into Klopps’ Dortmund

After a small hiatus, Shinji Kagawa is back at Borussia Dortmund, reunited with the club and manager than made him a sensation. Jurgen Klopp now has attacking depth & options with the Japanese international in the side, writes Mark Chadwick.

In the Borussia Dortmund world lately, there’s been no bigger buzz than the news of Shinji Kagawa’s return to the Westfalenstadion. For only €8m, Aki Watzke and Michael Zorc have managed to do a great piece of business if Shinji can emulate his form from his previous stint at the club.

However, Kagawa has not played much within the last year and did not even score a goal for Manchester United last season. Shinji’s first objective at Dortmund should be to regain his form. It’d be best for him to be eased into the team, not starting every game but making some substitute appearances with enough time left to have an effect on the match. Injuries to other key players though, and squad rotation will likely thrust Kagawa into the team sooner than he should be, and you could argue that is the only way for him regain his form and connect with his teammates. The fans at the stadium on Saturday afternoon will all be itching to see Kagawa back on the pitch, which could really tempt Klopp to give him a start.

Kagawa Klopp 2014
At Manchester United, he was often used as a winger, which is not a position that he thrives in. His best position is the #10 role, playing behind the striker(s). At Dortmund, Reus and Mkhitaryan both have played that position effectively, though the former usually operates as a striker or winger, while the latter has impressed as a central midfielder, making bursting runs forward.. These versatile players allow Kagawa to play his desired position without any consequence to the overall functionality of the side. Since Kagawa and Götze’s departures, the side have lacked a player who’s strong and creative in tight spaces, so Shinji’s return offers that extra element to the team’s play.

Recently, Dortmund have been playing with two strikers up top, typically Immobile and Aubameyang (except in the Augsburg game), but the formation with the team is subject to change, depending whose on the pitch. There can be, and will be, multiple scenarios and different strikers in the line-up since this team has a lot more depth compared to previous seasons. The first  line-up that comes to mind is the 4-2-3-1 formation, which BVB used a lot last year until late in the season, where Kagawa will be that central playmaker behind the striker. Dortmund has strayed away from that recently, with more success in different formations.

In a 4-1-2-1-2, used against Leverkusen, Kagawa could be the playmaker behind the two strikers, which could be any combination of Marco Reus, Aubameyang, Ciro Immobile, and Adrian Ramos. A 4-3-3 would not be Kagawa’s ideal formation, but if he were to play, he could be on the right side of the midfield, drifting into the center to try to get behind the front three and create from there. Kagawa shouldn’t have much of an issue rediscovering his form since he’s joining back up with Jürgen Klopp, the man who knows how to use him best.

Kagawa’s return adds some depth in that 10 position and hopefully Klopp will get him back into the form that the Dortmund supporters remember him by. In the 2011/2012 season, Kagawa’s most successful by far, he scored 13 goals in the league and assisted 8 more. This time around, a realistic output from the Japanese playmaker could be a direct contribution of about 15 goals or so, if he plays on a regular basis.

Since he left in the summer of 2012, the Dortmund team has changed slightly, with Götze and Lewandowski no longer there, and the additions of Marco Reus, Aubameyang, Ciro Immobile, Adrian Ramos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and others, all of whom Kagawa has not played with yet. However, he’s very comfortable with the management and the tactics of the squad, so I don’t expect him having much trouble fitting into this team that he once was a star for.

Describing the fans as ‘excited’ about Kagawa’s comeback is an understatement and we all cannot wait for to see Kagawa back at the Westfalenstadion once again, while the manager himself is evidently delightedly to have recaptured the Japanese sensation . The chants of “KAGAWASHINJI SCHLALA SCHLALALA” will soon be ringing from the Südtribüne once again. If Kagawa and Borussia Dortmund reuniting doesn’t make your heart melt a little bit, then you’re a cold person.

Written by Mark Chadwick


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