Kagawa to join Manchester United


Shinji Kagawa’s long-awaited move to Manchester United finally happened after the Premier League giant announced Tuesday it had come to terms with Borussia Dortmund on a transfer for the Japan midfielder.

It is the biggest transfer ever by a Japanese player, and perhaps even by an Asian player. The fee, depending on Kagawa’s performance at Old Trafford, could reach as high as ?22 million, according to the latest reports from Germany.

The deal is subject to a medical and the issuance of a work permit. Both are expected to be completed by the end of June, United said through a statement.

“Manchester United is delighted to announce that it has agreed (to) terms with both Borussia Dortmund and Shinji Kagawa for his transfer to the club,” United said.

However, Kagawa, who is currently on national team duty for the World Cup qualifiers, was not expecting the announcement to be made as he trained for Friday’s match at home to Jordan, and refused to go into details.

Appearing slightly annoyed by the situation, Kagawa did not take questions. He initially did not want to meet the press, but the Japan Football Association convinced him to at least say something.

“I haven’t put pen to paper yet,” Kagawa said. “We still have two more games to play, and the entire team is focused on these qualifiers.

“I’ll talk about all of this once I’m done here. I hope people will understand.”

His teammates, though, showered him with words of congratulations.

“Shinji deserves to be playing for a top club. He belongs,” CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda said. “I hope he does well.”

Arsenal winger Ryo Miyaichi has no doubt Kagawa will succeed in the Premiership, and will not take a backseat even at Alex Ferguson’s star-studded club.

“Kagawa can keep the ball in the smallest of spaces and is a quick decision-maker,” Miyaichi told Kyodo News. “He can play there for sure.

“He’s Japan’s No. 10, and I think he’ll be able to perform even at a glamorous side like Manchester United.”

Kagawa had been linked with the world’s biggest club like European champions Chelsea, Arsenal and AC Milan, although the Premier League was always his preferred destination.

The 23-year-old was instrumental in helping Dortmund win back-to-back Bundesliga titles, and is also an integral part of Alberto Zaccheroni’s plans for Asian champion Japan.

Kagawa failed to make Takeshi Okada’s team for the 2010 World Cup, but his stock took off after transferring from the J. League’s Cerezo Osaka to Dortmund, where he scored 21 goals in 49 league appearances.

He missed the second half of his first season in Germany after breaking his metatarsal at the 2011 Asian Cup, but returned for 2011-12 to push Dortmund to the Bundesliga and German Cup double.

Ferguson scouted Kagawa in person at the German Cup final. The two met afterward, and Kagawa later admitted he was charmed by the legendary Scot.

Dortmund wished Kagawa continued success at United, where he will be joined by fellow Asian and former J. League player Park Ji Sung of South Korea.

“He made huge contributions to the team over what has been a successful two years,” sports director Michael Zorc said. “We hope he continues to do well.”