Japan star Shinji Kagawa says he will not use the FIFA World Cup™ to impress Manchester United's new manager Louis van Gaal, despite being largely ignored by David Moyes during the 2013/14 season. "I think everyone knows I want to do well at the World Cup, and I'm sure everyone else does, too," the 25-year-old attacking midfielder told local media this week at Japan's training camp ahead of his debut on football's biggest stage.
"But I don't want to get my priorities mixed up here - the important thing is for Japan to win at the World Cup," Kagawa said, according to Kyodo news agency. "I'm not using the World Cup as a place to showcase myself for (van Gaal)."
Kagawa, twice a German Bundesliga champion with Borussia Dortmund, failed to score a goal in 30 matches he played for United in his second season at Old Trafford. He figured in 18 English Premier League matches under Moyes, who took over from Sir Alex Ferguson at the start of the 2013/14 campaign. Van Gaal's appointment as successor to the sacked Scot has not fazed Kagawa, who said it came as no surprise to the Red Devils.
"We've known for some time it was going to be him," said Kagawa. "We've got the World Cup first so I'll deal with all that after this is over."
He will lead the Samurai Blue attack along with AC Milan's Keisuke Honda in Brazil next month when Japan face Côte d'Ivoire, Greece and Colombia in Group C. It remains to be seen if Kagawa's chance of increased minutes at United will improve under the Dutch disciplinarian against midfield rivals in the team such as Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj.
The Japanese international said the prospect of his first World Cup appearance had helped motivate him throughout the time he spent on United's bench. "I basically want to keep doing what I did at Manchester United," Kagawa said. "I made sure I got the work in after games I didn't play in. I know how to get myself into shape.I was able to stay motivated despite the year I had because I had the World Cup to look forward to."