Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa says he will shrug off the greater pressure and scrutiny he is expected to face in the new season by scoring more goals for the German champions.
"I experienced the best of times and the worst of times," the Japanese star commented about his first season at Dortmund, in which he scored eight goals in 17 Bundesliga games before sitting out the second half with a foot injury. "I looked high and I looked low. In this sense, it has been a highly dense season," the 22-year-old attacking midfielder said in an interview with the daily Nikkei.
"People around me expected nothing of me a year ago but this year they may think it is a matter of course that I produce results," said Kagawa, who moved from J-League club Cerezo Osaka at the start of the 2010-2011 season. "Both pressure and expectations will be greater."
"I have to produce greater results than the past season in the domestic league, the European Champions League and the national team," he added. "Results mean goals. That is where attacking players are rated and they gain trust by scoring goals. I have never been criticised since my transfer. But this kind of thing can happen. If it does, I must control myself."
Kagawa has become a crowd favourite in Dortmund since his arrival. He broke his right foot in Japan's Asian Cup semi-final win over Korea Republic on 25 January before the Blue Samurai lifted a record fourth continental title.
After seeing Dortmund lift the Bundesliga shield on the bench, he came back onto the pitch to play the last three minutes of Dortmund's final league game of the season, a 3-1 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt, in mid-May.
Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has refused to let Kagawa play for Japan until his full recovery towards the new season which opens on 5 August. Klopp has asked him "not to join the national team" during the summer break as "it is important to rest my body," Kagawa said.
Japan had to decline an invitation to play in the Copa America in July as guests after European clubs refused to free up Japanese players, including Kagawa, for the South American championship. Dortmund also told Kagawa not to play in Japan's home friendlies against Peru and the Czech Republic under way at the moment.