After spending almost a year away from the pitch because of injuries, Shinji Kagawa marked his return to professional football with a brace in his first game with Beşiktaş. In the match where the Black Eagles gave Antalyaspor a six-goal drubbing, Kagawa came off the bench in the second half to score two goals in just three minutes. One of them was from a spectacular free kick, making his debut even more special. Kagawa's strong performance shows signs that he can make a real difference at Beşiktaş for the rest of the season.
Beşiktaş took a three-goal lead in the first half and the rest of the game was a cakewalk. Nevertheless, this cannot undermine Kagawa's performance. The Istanbul club could have won by an even bigger margin than 6-2, if Kagawa had been called upon earlier.
He was comfortable on the pitch with his teammates and looked almost as if he has been playing on this team for a long time. Moreover, this was his first professional game in almost a year, so his performance will definitely improve toward the end of the season.
Nevertheless, the more crucial part of the story is that Beşiktaş clinched a 6-2 victory without its prodigal Ricardo Quaresma. There were rumors that the Portuguese will leave Beşiktaş, even some of the executives told the media that they were looking for a good offer. But apparently, no one - other than Beşiktaş - wanted to pay millions for a 35-year-old winger. His contract with the Black Eagles runs out next year and there is no point in extending it any further.
Beşiktaş now has a good chance of closing the Quaresma chapter and start building a decentralized game. Those who have watched Beşiktaş closely in the last couple of years would know about this issue - the game was based on Quaresma's crosses. The whole plan was to bring the ball to Quaresma so that he could cross it into the box. As the team sits 11 points behind league leaders Başakşehir and finds itself eliminated from the Europa League, the simplicity of this plan has finally been recognized.
With Kagawa, coach Şenol Güneş can make a new start to his career in Beşiktaş. The first championship under his command in 2016 came with a decentralized game. Although Quaresma was in the squad, the game was not built solely on his dribbling and crossing skills. Players like Oğuzhan Özyakup, Jose Sosa and Gökhan Töre were actively participating in the attacking organizations.
With a weapon like Kagawa in his arsenal, Güneş can once again build a team like the one that brought him the title in 2016. Adem Ljajic as the playmaker and Jermaine Lens, Kagawa and Burak Yılmaz in the front, Beşiktaş can pose a real threat to all teams in the Super League. The championship would be a tough goal at this moment, but certainly, the team can make it to the Champions League with a new perspective.