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Man Utd could use Kagawa bargaining chip to fix broken midfield

| 27.01.2014

Juan Mata’s arrival at Manchester United spells bad news for Shinji Kagawa, the Japan international whose 18 months in the north west have amounted to some clever runs, a myriad of deft touches and little end product.

Mata could make his Red Devils debut at home to Cardiff – with the Spaniard 5/4 to score at any time – in the number 10 slot Kagawa was expected to make his own at Old Trafford after signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2012 for £17m.

The Kobe native scored 21 goals in 49 Bundesliga games at the Westfalenstadion and manager Jurgen Klopp has made no secret of the fact that he still rates his former charge highly.

A reunion with Klopp looks likely to be Kagawa’s next move, which would suit United nicely as boss David Moyes has been eyeing three of Die Schwarzgelben’s stars since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rumours linking United with centre-half Neven Subotic have gone quiet of late, although Moyes is thought to be keeping tabs on the Serb’s situation, while Marco Reus is contracted to BVB for another three years and the Bundesliga side will fight to keep the young Die Mannschaft forward.

However, with the champions still desperately short of quality in central midfield they should offer Kagawa as part exchange in a bid to sign versatile playmaker Ilkay Gundogan before the January window shuts.

Gundogan – who has also been the subject of admiring glances from Real Madrid – returned to training over Christmas after missing most of the season so far with a back injury.

Fourth-placed Dortmund have badly missed the eight-cap Germany international, who started out as an attacking midfielder before moving into a deep-lying role in the centre of the park, when Nuri Sahin left the club for the Bernabeu three and a half years ago.

For three campaigns Gundogan starred as the engine of Klopp’s midfield, with Dortmund claiming two Bundesliga titles before reaching last season’s Champions League final, but just 18 months remain on the 23-year-old’s contract and the club are likely to sell by next summer at the latest.

Now is the time for Moyes to use his Kagawa bargaining chip to steal a march on Los Blancos and land the type of top-class midfielder that eluded Ferguson in his last few seasons at United.

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Alex Fortune