Where are they now: Borussia Dortmund legend Shinji Kagawa

Shinji Kagawa of Real Zaragoza (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen,/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Shinji Kagawa of Real Zaragoza (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen,/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

As Shinji Kagawa prepares for the La Liga promotion play-offs, we look at how the Borussia Dortmund cult-hero’s first season in Spain has gone.

After six and a half years and countless memorable moments with Borussia Dortmund, Shinji Kagawa left the club last summer to fulfil his dream of playing in Spain last summer. The former Japanese international joined Segunda División side Real Zaragoza on a two year deal, with a lot of expectations and fanfare surrounding his arrival.

Zaragoza were coming off a disappointing 15th place finish, but went into the new season with the hopes of making a promotion charge, led by their marquee signing Kagawa.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United playmaker enjoyed a promising start to life in Spain, scoring in just his second game for the club with a lovely finish from a tight angle in a crowded box. The 31 year old continued his encouraging start to life in Zaragoza, as Los Maños began the season with no defeats in their first eight games.

But things soon went sideways as both Kagawa and Real Zaragoza failed to build on their impressive early season form. While he still showed flashes of his brilliance and excellent vision, Kagawa struggled to make the impact that was expected of him. And he was often used out of position, or was limited to cameos off the bench. Before Zaragoza’s final regular season game against Ponferradina, Kagawa’s last 90 minute appearance came all the way back in September 2019.

Zaragoza failed to earn automatic promotion to La Liga, finishing the season in third place. If they want to play in Spain’s first division next season, Víctor Fernández’ side must now beat Elche CF in the two legged play-off semi-finals before facing one of Almería and Girona in the final. Kagawa ended the regular season with four goals and one assist in 31 appearances, and it remains to be seen if he will start in the crucial play-off games.

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There have been rumours that Kagawa could be allowed to leave in the summer, especially in Real Zaragoza fail to get promoted. However, both Kagawa and his club will be hoping that the playmaker can roll back the years in the play-offs to lift Zaragoza back to La Liga for the first time since 2013.