AC Milan Transfers: Why CSKA's Keisuke Honda Would Be a Smart Summer Signing

Jack Alexandros Rathborn@@jackrathbornContributor IIIJuly 3, 2013

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 19:  Keisuke Honda of Japan looks on during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Italy and Japan at Arena Pernambuco on June 19, 2013 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Milan's transfer strategy this summer remained unclear for some time while the club decided whether to part company with Massimiliano Allegri.

Upon confirming that he would be staying with the Rossoneri, revelations started to be leaked that Max would only be remaining with the club providing that he alter the team's tactics.

Allegri predominantly used the 4-3-3 formation last season, which was effective in producing results in the second half of the season to drag Milan back into the Champions League places.

The style was less pleasing, though, particularly to the taste of the president, Silvio Berlusconi, who prefers to see Milan play with two centre-forwards in a 4-4-2 diamond.

The problem with this, though, is that Milan are missing a player capable of playing at the tip of the diamond, the traditional trequartista, as Kevin-Prince Boateng is evidently short of the required guile and creativity that this position demands.

Acquiring a player of this ilk is therefore the most pressing issue in the mercato for Milan, and a jewel has presented itself to the Rossoneri in the shape of Keisuke Honda.

The CSKA midfielder is said to have already agreed upon personal terms with the club, according to Corriere dello Sport (via Eurosport), and with the player's contract expiring in December, Milan are hoping to claim a bargain.

Milan have offered €2 million, although the Russian champions want no less than €7 million for the Japanese international.

Honda would complement Milan's attacking options well, and the transition to Serie A from the Russian Premier League (RPL) should not be too troublesome, with a high level of physical assets to go with exceptional technique.

Honda is actually Japan's star player and pushes Shinji Kagawa out of his favourite central role, proving how revered the 27-year-old is with the Samurai Blue.

Honda would be moving at the right stage of his career, having spent three seasons with The Horses in Moscow.

Milan would not be losing anything that Boateng provides, should they opt to move forward with Honda as their starting attacking midfielder either.

Honda can boast an impressive goal-scoring record, notching 19 times in 76 games in the RPL, with an even better ratio at international level of 15 goals in 45 matches. Boateng, in the same amount of time with Milan, has scored 10 times in 74 appearances.

Given the current financial situation at the club and the dearth of creative options to provide the service for Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy—Serie A's best strike partnership—Honda is the ideal signing.

There is competition from Everton and Spurs (according to Sky Italia via the Mirror), but it is questionable whether that would represent a step up in Honda's career.

The opportunity to join the most decorated club in world football and to star in his preferred role is surely too good of an opportunity to turn down. 

Milan should do everything within their power to complete this deal, as there will not be a better pound-for-pound signing available that fits their exact needs.


Jack is a football analyst and journalist based in London, who covers Italy's Serie A for Football Radar. You can follow him on twitter at @jackrathborn.


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