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May 30, 2012

Utd: Kagawa deal not about shirts

Manchester United commercial director Richard Arnold insists the club are not looking to sign Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa simply to sell shirts.

• Man Utd close to Kagawa deal

Kagawa is reportedly close to moving from Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund to Old Trafford on a €15 million transfer, which could rise to €22 million with add-ons. Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke fuelled speculation further on Tuesday evening, telling Derwesten: "Both sides want to conclude the deal."

Meanwhile, United's South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung may exit the club this summer, sparking talk the club are looking to the sign Kagawa to boost brand recognition throughout Asia. Arnold, though, believes United's individual players do not drive the club's off-field profitability.

"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.

"When you look at the success we've seen in that part of the world [Asia], it isn't down to any one player or person. Of course, Ji is a fantastic player, was captain of the South Korea team and continues to be a key part of our squad.

"But for Manchester United, it's more than any one player. It was more than George Best, it was more than Bryan Robson, it was more than David Beckham, it was more than Cantona, than Park.

"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. Our games are shown 1.1 billion homes across the globe and you think 'which film does that 60 times a year?'

"Be it George Clooney or Brad Pitt, what is there where that is shown? There just isn't anything like it."

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