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SBD Global/June 7, 2012/Franchises

Kagawa Signing Thought Of As A Strategic Move On And Off Pitch

ManU's commercial arm "reaches so far and so deep" into Asia, that any new player from the Far East will "always arrive to suggestions he has been bought to boost shirt sales," according to Ian Ladyman of the London DAILY MAIL. This is the "unfair and inaccurate scepticism" that Shinji Kagawa will meet when he begins pre-season training next month. Playing in Asia is part of the club's summer tour "won't help." But the "largest problem facing Kagawa at the moment," as he soon becomes ManU's first signing of the summer, is not who he is, "but who he isn't." ManU's supporters "want Blue Riband signings." Although a recent Bundesliga champion and an int'l with 30 caps to his name, Kagawa "will not set pulses racing" among United fans "until he is joined by somebody more recognisable and -- in all honesty -- more expensive" (DAILY MAIL, 6/5). In London, Raphael Honigstein wrote it is "easy to see why his native media make such a fuss." Kagawa has established himself "as arguable the best Japanese player in Europe," over the course of a successful year in the Bundesliga, where he helped Dortmund to an unprecedented double. Considering the "enormous overseas marketing potential that comes" with being United's first Japanese player, "the transfer was almost a no-brainer." Now the only problem that remains is "finding room in the Old Trafford press box for the army of Japanese reporters who will start to keep tabs on his progress" (BBC, 6/5). The AFP's Shigemi Sato reported Kagawa "cut a reluctant figure when cornered by media in Saitama," where Japan is preparing to play Jordan on Friday. Kagawa said, "We still have two more games to play, and the entire team is focused on these qualifiers." Kagawa added, "I'll talk about all of this once I'm done here." Asian newspapers "splashed with the news on Wednesday," and Singapore's New Paper called him the "real deal." Japan's Nikkei business daily read: "What [ManU] needs is a player who can change the pace of attack with ingenuity and accelerate the attack. That may be why they acquired Kagawa" (AFP, 6/6). Goal.com's Bairner, Birchall & Orlowitz wrote that in "squeaky-clean Kagawa" ManU has got a "gifted player and hard worker who will be a warrior on the pitch, gracious in the dressing room and virtually absent from the British gossip columns, too." In an era when big-spending clubs are often limited to "choosing two out of three when chasing top stars, this signing is truly Christmas come early for the Old Trafford faithful" (GOAL.com, 6/6).

A WIN-WIN
: GOAL.com's Karthick Arvinth noted that the €15M ($18.8M) "raked in by the midfielder's move" to ManU will be "largely spent" on stadium and training base renovations, along with a club merchandise store. Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said that most of that money will be spent on renovating the stadium and building a new training ground "to nurture young talent, along with a new megastore to sell club merchandise." Watzke told Bild: "We will use the Kagawa money to cement our club's foundations. Overall, we will invest about €12M ($15M) on our infrastructure" (GOAL.com, 6/6).
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