Manchester United has reportedly agreed a £12m deal with Borussia Dortmund to bring Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa to Old Trafford. With the potential departure of Park Ji-Sung over the summer, some have suggested the signing is motivated by a need to boost brand recognition in Asia. United's commercial director Richard Arnold, however, insists that their new recruit has nothing to do with selling shirts, as they have plenty of worldwide box office talent to sell their garments already. Reports ESPN Soccernet:
"We don't sign players to sell shirts." Arnold said. "We are reliant on 25 players and they are all massive stars. We have 25 George Clooneys."
Wayne Rooney has been described as many things in his career (a phenomenal talent; a balding thug; a romancer of the elderly), but there's very little of his appearance or character that can be compared to Clooney. And as much as Tom Cleverly's mother tells him he's handsome, it's hard to imagine the young midfielder robbing a casino with Brad Pitt.
Arnold continued with his rationale by explaining that Paul Scholes is so ancient that the Chinese have incorporated him into their logosyllabic written language:
"Ji is very popular in Korea, just as Javier Hernandez is hugely popular in Mexico, but Paul Scholes has his own Chinese character. These are huge stars and the big stars are the big stars in every country."
While Arnold's movie star analogies are hilarious to pick apart, he is probably right to argue that Kagawa has been brought in for football reasons. The modestly priced midfielder helped Dortmund win the double this season, scoring 17 goals along the way. The only Manchester United midfielders to get close to that tally in the last campaign were Nani and Ashley Young with eight goals each.