Shinji Kagawa, remember him? His career is not over just yet. After several months as a free agent, the former United star has found a new club in Greece.

Kagawa was previously released by Spanish side Real Zaragoza, who could no longer afford his wages.

Now he has signed with fourth placed Greek side PAOK in a bid to rejuvenate his career, signing a 18 month contract. The club confirmed the move on their website, and released a video unveiling their new addition.

Kagawa is now 31, and should have plenty more left to offer. But his career path has not been straightforward.

He left United in 2014 to rejoin Borussia Dortmund, although never quite recaptured the form which led to him clinching a move to Old Trafford in the first place.

Kagawa then joined Besiktas, before Real Zaragoza, and now he is trying his luck with PAOK.

Zaragoza v Elche - La Liga SmartBank Playoffs
(Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

What happened at United?

Between 2010 and 2012, Kagawa scored 29 goals for Dortmund, before joining United in a potential bargain £12 million deal, which could have rose with add-ons to £17 million.

This seemed like good business, but there was one main problem for Kagawa; his inability to fit into United’s first choice XI.

United’s opportunistic move for Robin van Persie the same summer pushed Wayne Rooney into a deeper role, clashing with Kagawa’s preferred position. The Japan international often found himself shunted out wide and was unable to show his best form.


Ferguson’s departure made it even tougher for Kagawa, and quoted last year by the MEN, he explained how the lack of managerial stability ended up accelerating his exit. New managers brought in new players, and Kagawa was left like a spare part.

He said: “I joined a club with the same manager for 25 years and then they had Moyes, Giggs and van Gaal. I did not play well in the World Cup finals in Brazil. Japan were bottom and eliminated. I felt I needed a new challenge to help me get back to my best. Maybe that could have been in Manchester, but then Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao arrived.

“That only made my situation worse. I knew it was time for me to leave Manchester after two years when Van Gaal said to me: ‘Shinji, you are not going to play as much for me.”

Manchester United v Hull City - Premier League
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Kagawa left with United supporters never really feeling like he showed his best football on a consistent basis. A hat-trick against Norwich was an indication of what he was capable of, but these made up half of the six total goals he scored for the club.

His spell wasn’t a total failure of course. Kagawa left with a Premier League title winner’s medal, a big achievement considering United have failed to win the league since 2013.

Upon signing, Sir Alex Ferguson told BBC Sport: “I believe he will make an impact upon the team very quickly as he is suited to United’s style of play.”

Sadly that never happened, and Kagawa is still picking up the pieces from a no doubt confidence denting spell at Old Trafford. Hopefully for his sake, his spell with PAOK in Greece will go a lot better.

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