Speaking in Japan, Chris Smalling revealed how much of a star Shinji Kagawa is in his own country.

“Shinji’s a massive icon in Japan,” he told the official site. “Me and Ashley Young picked him up on the way over to an event on Monday morning and as soon as we got out of the car with him we were mobbed. It was pandemonium! They love him here. It’s nice for us to come to Japan and have him show us around a little bit.”

Smalling noted the contribution Kagawa made last season, but expects him to get better and better in 2013-2014.

“I think he’ll get stronger and stronger,” he continued. “Last season he did very well and contributed significantly. It’s always difficult in your first season and for Shinji, who didn’t speak much English, it must have been even tougher. I think we’ll see big things from him this season now that he’s more settled and he’s integrated more. I think he could be stronger than ever.”