It is fair to say that for one reason or another, Shinji Kagawa has yet to really shine at Manchester United since arriving in 2012.
And unless the situation dramatically improves before the end of the season, the time has come for the midfielder to leave Old Trafford.
The appointment of David Moyes has proven disastrous for Kagawa.
Despite playing for a side that has struggled to achieve any consistency on the pitch this season, the Scot has overlooked the midfielder time and time again.
Formerly one of European football’s most sought after talents, Kagawa now finds himself cast in the role of a perennial substitute on the Old Trafford bench.
The Japanese star’s start against West Ham at the weekend was his first in the Premier League since January 11th.
With so many in the United squad failing to impress in such a torrid campaign, it is surprising that Kagawa hasn’t been experimented with more as a potential solution.
Despite Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young’s indifferent form, the Scot has outlined a clear preference for the pair in his team selections. The emergence of Adnan Januzaj in this campaign has pushed the Japanese midfielder even further down the pecking order.
Kagawa simply isn’t a natural fit for Moyes’ tactics at Old Trafford.
As the home draw to Fulham demonstrated perfectly, the Scot favours his wide midfielders to hug the touchline and pepper the penalty box with crosses.
When selected on the left of the attacking unit, the Japanese star prefers to cut inside and create via intricate interplay with his team-mates.
Whilst it is a role that he has performed successfully for Borussia Dortmund and his country in the past, it is a style that does not fit seamlessly into Moyes’ plans.
Kagawa is not a winger in the mould that Moyes evidently desires. With Wayne Rooney, fresh from signing a lucrative new deal, currently occupying the coveted number ten role, it is difficult to place the Japanese star in the side.
Without a constant run of games, the midfielder has failed to display his best form in this campaign. Any creative player would struggle when selected so sporadically.
The record signing of Juan Mata in the January window, combined with the player’s place in the pecking order, strongly suggests that Kagawa doesn’t feature in Moyes’ long term plans at Old Trafford.
Despite being out in the cold, the Japanese midfielder is still very much a favourite amongst the Old Trafford faithful.
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signings at Old Trafford, much was expected of Kagawa following his prolific stint at Borussia Dortmund.
Having made a solid if unspectacular start to his career at the club in an injury hit first season, many were expecting the midfielder to assume a more prominent role in United’s title defence.
Disbelief is frequently expressed at the manner in which Kagawa has been frozen out. Twitter is awash with angered United supporters who cannot understand the midfielder’s lack of playing time. Numerous fan pieces have been written to champion Kagawa’s cause.
It is unusual for a recently arrived player to acquire such a following despite a distinct lack of playing time.
But this pressure from the stands seems to be falling upon deaf ears.
The latest transfer speculation has linked the player with a return to Dortmund in a cash-plus-player deal for Marco Reus. Inter Milan have also been credited with an interest in the playmaker.
As long as Moyes is in charge, it would be in Kagawa’s best interests to seek a move away and find a manager more appreciative of his talents.
In his final season at the Signal Iduna Park, the playmaker contributed thirteen goals and eight assists as Jurgen Klopp’s side retained the Bundesliga title. At the age of 25, there is still time for the Japanese star to rejuvenate his career and thrive at another top European side.
Every manager has his favourites. Unfortunately for Kagawa, he isn’t one of Moyes’.