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Wednesday, 6th June 2012
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Shinji Kagawa to join Man Utd in 17m deal

Shinji Kagawa is poised to make Japanese footballing history by joining Manchester United, after a deal was reached with his current side Borussia Dortmund.

A fee thought to be worth £12 million - rising to a potential £17 million - was agreed for the midfielder, who helped his side win the German Bundesliga title last season with 13 goals in 31 games.

The transfer remains subject to Kagawa gaining a work permit, but this is expected to be a formality and the Red Devils expect the 23-year-old to be an official member of their squad by the end of this month.

Having started his career at FC Miyagi, the midfielder moved to Barcelona before heading back to the J-League to play for Cerezo Osaka.

Dortmund picked up a bargain when they brought him to Europe for 350,000 euros in 2010, and will now make a substantial profit on the playmaker who scored 24 goals in 56 appearances for the club.

His arrival at Manchester United is huge for football in Japan, and fresh from helping the Samurai Blue overcome Oman 3-0 in a World Cup qualifying match, Kagawa is now the most talked-about player in the country.

Though Kagawa refused to be drawn into the hype and insisted his focus was on helping Japan qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, his compatriots were full of praise.

"For our generation, a Japanese player going overseas and joining a big club was something you'd only see in a comic book," Japan's veteran captain Makoto Hasebe told reporters.

"Shinji's giving kids something to dream about. It's incredibly big, what he's doing."

In England, there is talk that Kagawa was signed purely to sell shirts and improve Manchester United's reputation in Asia - something that was said when the club signed South Korean player Park Ji Sung - but the club insist that is not the case.

In spite of the clear business sense the transfer makes, United's commercial director Richard Arnold says that their success in Asia is down to more than just one player.

"We don't sign players to sell shirts," he said. "We are reliant on 25 players and they are all massive stars. We have 25 George Clooneys."

Written by Mark Smith