Have Borussia Dortmund found their new Shinji Kagawa?
Shinji Kagawa signed for Borussia Dortmund as a relatively unknown 21-year-old from Cerezo Osaka on a free transfer in 2010.
What followed was years of Japanese playmaking magic at Signal Iduna Park, as the elegant attacking midfielder helped the club to consecutive Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokals.
Since those prime years from 2010 to around 2017, which saw a brief spell with Manchester United in between, BVB have struggled to find a player like him.
Admittedly, there doesn’t come many like the diminutive Japan international, who did his talking on the pitch.
Several talented midfielders in black and yellow have come and gone since, who all had their own qualities, but Kagawa had that something special which won the hearts of the Yellow Wall.
Averaging a direct goal contribution every other game in his 212 for Dortmund, the now 34-year-old marked his first start back with Cerezo Osaka just two weeks ago with a goal.
But as the Bundesliga icon’s career winds down, are ‘die Schwarzgelbe’ closing in on their next samurai superstar?
Daichi Kamada to BVB?
Eintracht Frankfurt attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada’s contract with the 2022 UEFA Europa League winners is set to expire at the end of June.
With the player reportedly ready for a new challenge, several of Europe’s top clubs have been made aware of the situation and are circling to secure his services in what appears to be a bargain deal.
German broadcaster Sport1 reported in February that Borussia Dortmund had agreed verbal terms with the 26-year-old.
This transfer will reportedly see Kamada earn an annual salary of between €5million and €6million on a five-year deal.
Reliable transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano reported at the start of March that the verbal agreement was ready to go, and that the player ‘wants the move’.
He also relayed an interview which BVB sporting director Sebastian Kehl did with German TV show ZDF Sportstudio, in which the former Dortmund skipper said:
“He’s a really interesting player. We once had a Japanese player with Kagawa, we had a successful time back then.
“Kamada to join us? If there is something to report then we will do”.
Things do appear to have stalled since then, however, as the Daily Mail from England reported just over two weeks ago that Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester United have entered the race.
The player is said to be ‘dreaming’ of a move to a top international club; Liverpool and Newcastle United have also been named as potential destinations.
Good reporting by @berger_pj & @CMoffiziell for @SPORT1.
Meeting in Dortmund yesterday: Sebastian Kehl & Daichi Kamada’s agents. Despite overseas interest, #BVB in pole position to sign Kamada whose contract is up in the summer at #SGE. https://t.co/8OzKNvubQ7
— Derek Rae (@RaeComm) February 23, 2023
It is because of this, why Kamada is supposedly hesitant to make his final decision.
But as of now, a move to Signal Iduna Park is most likely.
Daichi Kamada is a hard-working, energetic attacking midfielder who possesses great skill and speed on the ball.
He is six feet tall and right-footed.
His agility, balance and close control skills have made him a nightmare to deal with over his past few seasons in Germany.
Meanwhile his 13 goals across all competitions this season for Frankfurt contribute to his best total since signing for ‘die Adler’.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 15, 2023
That hints at his good finishing abilities, especially for an attacking midfielder.
Three of those goals have come from the penalty spot; he is very confident from 12 yards, boasting a 100% record so far at Frankfurt.
Kamada can also hit a free-kick too, having scored multiple in his time at Deutsche Bank Park.
According to fbref.com, the 27-time Japan international who also represented his country at the World Cup in Qatar, is in the top 13% of attacking midfielders and wingers in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues over the past year for tackles per match and in the top 16% for interceptions per match.
That proves his willingness to do the dirty work and put in the extra yards for the team.
He is also in the top 19% for progressive passes per match (5.15) and the top 23% for pass completion (80%).
Kamada started his career at Higashiyama in his native Japan, before moving to first division side Sagan Tosu.
After impressing there, he earned a move to Frankfurt in 2017.
In his debut season, he made two Bundesliga starts and managed to win a DFB-Pokal winners’ medal after appearing in his side’s first round win at Erndtebrück.
A loan spell in Belgium with Sint-Truiden followed and that was where Kamada really kicked on.
25 direct goal involvements saw Adi Hütter give him a chance in the Frankfurt first team.
Upon his return, his name really began to take off, particularly due to his UEFA Europa League performances; he scored two goals at Arsenal and bagged a hat-trick against RB Salzburg.
The following season, the attacking midfielder put up a fantastic assist tally, with his 13 the third highest total in the league behind teammate Filip Kostic and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller.
Last season Kamada had another solid campaign and was a key player in Frankfurt’s historic Europa League triumph, netting five goals and claiming an assist on their way to beating Rangers in the final, where he also scored his penalty in the shootout.
So far this season, he has registered 18 direct goal contributions, the same total he notched up in 2020/21 and one less than his 2019/20 total; he is on course for his best season in Germany to date.
On the international stage, he has also been a key player for Japan.
After his form in Belgium earned him his first call-up, he played a key role in his nation’s World Cup qualifying campaign and impressed in Qatar.
Daichi Kamada is a very good player with great Bundesliga experience and quality.
With Borussia Dortmund’s flexibility to play with a midfield three or with an attacking midfielder, there are a couple of places where he can fit.
As Marco Reus continues to age, Kamada is a good option to gradually come in for him, while he can also compete with Julian Brandt for a position.
Jude Bellingham is also likely to leave the club this summer, so another spot has freed there.
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) February 25, 2023
Meanwhile, Raphael Guerrero has been excelling in a midfield role recently; his contract expires this summer, but there has been talk that he may sign an extension, as Edin Terzic may be planning to make that a permanent switch.
Either way there is certainly room in the BVB squad for Kamada and he would considerably improve squad depth.
Also, his arrival would also greatly help the club’s marketability in the Asian market, which had declined since Kagawa’s departure.
All in all, on a free transfer, this is a no-brainer for Dortmund and Daichi Kamada would be a brilliant addition.
Japanese players by Bundesliga appearances
- Makoto Hasebe (368)
- Yasuhiko Okudera (234)
- Yuya Osako (181)
- Gotoku Sakai (170)
- Genki Haraguchi (167)
- Shinji Kagawa (148)
- Naohiro Takahara (135)
- Shinji Okazaki (128)
- Daichi Kamada (118)
- Hiroshi Kiyotake (117)
Japanese Bundesliga players by direct goal contributions
- Shinji Kagawa (78)
- Hiroshi Kiyotake (47)
- Yuya Osako (47)
- Daichi Kamada (45)
- Shinji Okazaki (45)
- Naohiro Takahara (32)
- Yoshinori Muto (30)
- Yasuhiko Okudera (29)
- Makoto Hasebe (28)
- Genki Haraguchi (26)