Former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa joined Belgian Pro League Sint-Truiden on a free transfer, the sixth club in his long European career.
Kagawa faced an uncertain future after being released by PAOK in mid-December, as he initially joined the Greek Super League team from Real Zaragoza only 11 months earlier.
The 32-year-old played for United and Borussia Dortmund in their prime before suffering a quick fall from grace, but has now been offered the opportunity to relive his career at STVV. The Belgian club is ranked 13th in the league table.
Kagawa Free Transfer Announced
Kagawa is looking forward to a new challenge in Belgium and believes he still has a lot to offer given his previous experience in top-tier European football.
“Hello, STVV fans! I have made the decision to come with strong determination,” he told the club’s official website in his presentation. “I want to contribute my football and experience and help the team achieve its goals. I look forward to serving the fans and supporters. Thank you for your support.”
“We are delighted that a player of such caliber is joining the ranks of the Canary Islands,” said the official club statement saying. “With his magical abilities and world-class experience, Kagawa will bring creativity and serenity to our midfield.”
Kagawa’s turbulent career
Kagawa began his career in his homeland with Cerezo Osaka, where he spent four years before being signed by Dortmund. The playmaker quickly became a key member of the BVB team, helping them win a league and cup double in his second season, attracting United’s attention.
The Red Devils spent $ 16 million on Kagawa and was able to add a Premier League title to their trophy collection in a promising debut campaign, but it ended up being sold back to Dortmund after a disappointing 2013-14 season.
Kagawa remained at the Westfalenstadion for another five years, but never managed to regain his best form and was transferred to Zaragoza after a loan period at Besiktas in 2019. He remained with the Spanish team for only one season, released in October 2020.
Another club took three months to show interest, when he joined Greek PAOK in January 2021. He made only 12 appearances for PAOK before his departure.
Kagawa has 97 appearances for Japan on the national team stage, scoring 31 goals. He has not been part of the national team setup since 2019, although Kagawa has not officially retired from international soccer.