NARITA, CHIBA PREF. – Shinji Kagawa has finally spoken about his transfer to Manchester United, saying he can’t wait to play in the Premier League for Sir Alex Ferguson, who he described as a legend.
Shortly after returning on Wednesday from international duty in Australia, Kagawa lifted his self-imposed ban in talking about the most high-profile move in Japanese soccer history.
Kagawa did not go into details about his contract with United, but did speak at length about his transfer to the Red Devils whose fee has been said to be as high as €22 million ($27 million).
“When you look at the football scene, it’s the best league in the world,” Kagawa told Kyodo News. “You’ve got the world’s biggest clubs like (Manchester) City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea all in the same league which is fascinating.
“In the Bundesliga, the only games that compare are the ones against Bayern. I feel like I’d be able to gain so much by playing big games on a regular basis, including the Champions League. I can’t help but be excited.”
Kagawa, who had been linked with European champions Chelsea as well as Arsenal and AC Milan, said United were the first team to make him an offer.
The 23-year-old, coming off a league-and-cup double season with Borussia Dortmund, said meeting Ferguson was a huge factor in his decision-making.
“There was some talking going on with other clubs, but Manchester were the first to make me a formal offer,” Kagawa said. “And the more I talked to them, the more I felt Manchester was the place for me to be.
“I met (Ferguson) and contacted him a few times afterward. I thought we hit it off, which meant a lot to me. He told me, ‘Don’t worry about a thing, trust me. I would love it if you could take on this huge challenge’ “
“And when a legendary man like him says that to you, it carries a lot of weight.”
Kagawa shot down stories of him being offered the No. 7 shirt worn by club legends George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kagawa said he does want to play in central attacking midfield as he did at Dortmund, a position currently occupied by England striker Wayne Rooney.
He plays on the left wing for Japan because Keisuke Honda has cemented his place in the hole.
“I want to play (in the hole),” Kagawa said. “I feel like that’s where I play my best football. I plan on working hard so I can win my place at the position.”
“They’re one of the biggest clubs in the world, and I was given a chance to play for them. I took a lot of things into consideration, like the fact that they’ve got a deep squad, their style of football and it wasn’t an easy decision.”
“But I wanted the challenge.”
Hosogai moving up
Japan midfielder Hajime Hosogai said Wednesday he will play for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany’s Bundesliga for next season.
Hosogai’s contract will run through June 2015.
The 26-year-old Hosogai formally joined Leverkusen from Urawa Reds in January last year but later was loaned out to Augsburg.