Sport & Culture

Shinji Kagawa, Superstar

Borussia Dortmund player Shinji Kagawa is already a star. Will he become Asia’s most expensive ever player?

John Duerden

Shinji Kagawa is already one of the stars of Germany’s top football league, and the Japanese international may be about to move to an even bigger stage than the Bundesliga. When he goes, he will likely become the most expensive Asian player ever.

The German league is already pretty prestigious, and the 23-year-old helped Borussia Dortmund to the German title last season, his first in the country after joining the club from Cerezo Osaka in the summer of 2010. Twelve goals this season from the midfielder have put the club on course for a successive triumph.

That remains to be seen, but Kagawa has caught the eye of some even bigger fish and has been linked with moves to such clubs as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in England. It also wouldn’t be a surprise if Italian and Spanish teams were also making contact.

BVB porting director Michael Zorc told Bild: “There should be a decision soon. We would like to extend with him…The ball is in [Kagawa's] box – Shinji must now decide. We know that he is flirting with clubs in England and Spain.”

Dortmund, based in the Ruhr region, won’t want to sell no matter how many millions they will receive (and the fact that he cost only 350,000 euros ensures a healthy profit).

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The midfielder started his second season slowly, but it didn’t take long for Kagawa to find his form.

His 12 goals – and there are six games left – mean that he has surpassed Naohiro Takahara as the most prolific Japanese goal getter in Germany. The feat is all the more impressive when you consider that Takahara, with his nickname of the Sushi Bomber, was an out-and-out striker. Kagawa plays in the middle and creates chances for others as much as he takes them himself.

If he wants, he can sign a new contract with the club that will double his wages. But that may not be enough.

“I can give no status updates and cannot make any speculation," well-known German agent Thomas Kroth said recently. “I’ll have to stick to my principles here…[But I'll say] only one thing: Shinji is an outstanding player who would fit in any league.”

We may soon get to see how true that is.