Shinji Kagawa will get even better next season, according to Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, after the Japanese midfielder became the first Asian player to score a Premier League hat-trick.
SCORERS: Manchester United - Kagawa 45, 76, 87; Rooney 90
The 23-year-old played the starring role as United thrashed Norwich City to move 15 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, leaving top scorer Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in the shade with three classy finishes.
Kagawa, signed from Borussia Dortmund in June, has had his first season disrupted by a knee injury but showed signs against Norwich that he can make a big impact at Old Trafford.
“It’s brilliant for him. The lad is a good finisher and his second goal was so composed and an intelligent finish while his third was absolutely brilliantly taken,” Ferguson said.
“It’s been a great day for him. He got that injury around October, November and was out quite a while,” added Ferguson, who could be tempted to start Kagawa against Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday.
“It knocked him back a bit but he’s gradually coming back and I think you’ll see a really good player next year.”
Kagawa is one of three Japanese players plying their trade in the English Premier League along with Ryo Miyaichi, on loan to Wigan Athletic from Arsenal, and Southampton’s Maya Yoshida.
United have a huge fanbase in Japan and will tour there before the start of next season, playing Kagawa’s first club Cerezo Osaka.
Rio Ferdinand and Rafael were left out of yesterday’s game, with Ferguson mindful of Tuesday’s clash with Real. Whilst Ryan Giggs was denied a 1,000th senior appearance in readiness for some meaningful contribution against Jose Mourinho’s men.
“It will be a fantastic night,” said Ferguson. “You are talking about two of the greatest clubs in the world. Emotions will be high and I am sure it will be a tremendous match. If we can get a blank against us on Tuesday we would go through. But I think both teams will score. I just hope we get more than them.”