As rumored and as expected, Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda is finally moving to Italian club A.C. Milan after his contract with CSKA Moscow expires next month. The move was confirmed by Milan vice president Adriano Galliani in an announcement made during the UEFA banquet on Wednesday, saying Honda will be officially part of their roster by January 3, 2014.
The Japanese international was originally slated to join Milan in the 2013-2014 summer transfer window but failed to reach an agreement with the Russian club. But since his contract with CSKA was ending in January anyway, it made more sense to wait for a free transfer. Galliani told reporters that Honda will be wearing the No. 10 jersey for the club, which was vacated after Ghanian Kevin-Prince Boateng transferred to Germany in August. However, he said it is still unsure if the Japanese football superstar can already suit up in their first match of 2014 as his papers still have to be sorted out.
This is a huge boost for Honda, fondly called “Emperor Keisuke” by his Japanese fans, as he has long been expected to join a bigger European club. And despite a less stellar performance this year for CSKA Moscow, scoring just five goals and making five assists in 27 games compared to his seven goals and six assists in 21 matches the previous season, he is still expected to make a huge difference to Milan. The storied Italian club has been struggling in Serie A this season, as they are just ninth in the league standings and taking just 18 points from their first 15 games. Playing at a higher level will also help Honda as the Samurai Blue prepare for the World Cup in 2014. Japan got a mostly favorable draw in Group C where they will face Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast and pundits expect them to progress from the group stages to the knockout rounds.
[ via Goal ]
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