Arriving from Borussia Dortmund early last summer, Shinji Kagawa looked primed to become a key midfield target for the 2012/13 season. Having helped steer Jurgen Klopp’s side to the title in his final year in the Bundesliga, the Japan international’s displays in the role in “the hole” suggested United were set to shift formation to 4-2-3-1 and hand him a place behind Wayne Rooney as Sir Alex Ferguson attempted to wrestle the title back from City:
Three days before their Gameweek 1 opener at Everton, however, the acquisition of Robin Van Persie turned the Fantasy landscape on its head and made a significant dent in Kagawa’s prospects. While the Dutchman ran riot and grabbed the goals that recaptured the crown, the former Dortmund man struggled to settle in his debut season, with a knee injury and occasional game time on the left flank limiting his potential in what proved to be Ferguson’s final term in charge at Old Trafford.
- Wayne Rooney’s decision to hand in a transfer request towards the end of last season looks key to Kagawa’s prospects. Omitted from the United squad for the final couple of league games under Ferguson, Rooney seems determined to leave after a lacklustre campaign – having dropped deeper to accommodate Van Persie, his possible departure would free up Kagawa’s preferred position in “the hole” and afford him the chance to slot in behind Van Persie.
- New manager David Moyes’ penchant for a lone striker system may also be advantageous. While it’s all too early to ascertain just what sort of formation the former Everton boss has in mind as he takes the Old Trafford reins, his use of Marouane Fellaini as the most advanced central midfielder last term was hugely beneficial to Fantasy managers. Providing Rooney leaves, Kagawa’s playmaking abilities seem the natural fit amongst United’s current midfield crop – given that he produced 13 goals and eight assists from 31 appearances in his final year at Dortmund, his suitability to the role is more than apparent.
- Having finished last season with just six goals and four assists over 20 appearances, it’s possible that Kagawa is in line for a slight drop in price next time out. Starting last season at 8.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), he racked up just 87 points and can resultantly be expected to slip to around 8.0 when the player lists are revealed next month. Given that previous mid-price options such as Fellaini, Michu and Kevin Nolan are set for a hefty price hike after their respective displays in a similar position, the Japan international could prove to be a little more budget friendly when assessing the midfield landscape.
- Kagawa’s hat-trick and 21 point FPL against Norwich in Gameweek 28 highlights his capabilities. Granted, six goals over 1,314 minutes was far from impressive but compared to United’s other midfielders, it’s positively prolific – Nani and Antonio Valencia both notched one goal apiece, while Ashley Young failed to find the net at all last season. New boy Wilfried Zaha also offers an option but after a campaign where Michael Carrick was United’s highest scoring midfielder with a mere 101 FPL points, Kagawa could be primed to become a key player as the Moyes era gets underway.