The Japanese midfielder scored and was named man of the match on his home debut as United beat Fulham on Saturday. In terms of summer signings, Eden Hazard is stealing the headlines but Kagawa is generating excitement for his style of play and the impact it will have on United.
Football seems intuitive to the midfielder, he pulls off things with ease and they come almost like second nature, and it is in the final third United are reaping the rewards.
How Kagawa links up with Robin Van Persie is especially exciting, and many are already looking forward to seeing what the two can conjure up on the pitch as there seems to be an understanding there already.
But we shouldn’t be surprised.
Van Persie comes from a long line of brilliant Dutch players, students of the game that see football as a means of expressing themselves. Van Basten could paint masterpieces with his feet, so could Bergkamp, the man who’s throne Van Persie ascended to in North London. The likes of Rensenbrink, Neeskens, Seedorf, Gullit and many more will be remembered too, but the most impressive of the lot is Johan Cruyff.
Part of the Dutch ‘Total Football’ revolution and instrumental to Barcelona’s current world football domination, Cruyff was like Van Gough with a football. And excitingly for United fans, he is the player that Kagawa’s old mentor Levir Culpi feels the Japanese midfielder resembles most.
It was Culpi that discovered Kagawa and pushed him further forward, taking off the shackles that the defensive position he had occupied had placed on him. And in doing so Culpi feels that Kagawa blossomed into a Cruyff-esque type of player, a player that wouldn’t have been out of place in the mouth watering Dutch side of 1974.
Speaking to the MEN, Culpi said:
“It was an ambitious buy by United. It represents something different. If this means United will change their way of playing, he can help them back to the top level.
“And compare him to anyone? Well, he reminds me of one of the old greats – Johan Cruyff from 1974.
“In ‘74, Holland had a team that would fit Shinji like a glove. No-one really had a set position. It was all about movement, and Cruyff was a player that was like Shinji in many ways.
“He was everywhere, he broke through the defence, he shoots, he scores and he attacked using the entire field.
“So yes, that’s the player I’m thinking of. Shinji’s style reminds me of Cruyff.”
You can read Culpi’s full interview with the MEN here where he gives a full breakdown of Kagawa, including why he wanted the midfielder to go to Barcelona.