Will the acquisition of Keisuke Honda change AC Milan's tactical setup? Maurizio Ganz thinks so.
On Wednesday the now-retired journeyman striker, who played parts of three seasons for the Rossoneri between 1998 and 2001, remarked that Honda’s arrival could see manager Massimiliano Allegri switch to a 4-3-2-1 formation in the New Year.
"We could see Milan play with a Christmas Tree formation," Ganz told Milan News (via Football-Italia). "They could line up with Honda and Kaka playing behind Mario Balotelli. I think that side would scare opponents."
He has a point.
Kaka played the best football of his career in a Christmas Tree setup under former boss Carlo Ancelotti, and given the renaissance he is currently enjoying at the San Siro, it would make sense to accommodate him.
Honda, for his part, will be joining the club on a free transfer next month following three-and-a-half seasons at CSKA Moscow. Ironically, his recent performances for the Russian side have been among his poorest since signing from VVV-Venlo in 2010, and he started his final match for the outfit—against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League—on the bench.
That said, the 27-year-old continues to be in blistering form internationally, and earlier this week, Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni—himself a Milan alumnus—told Radio Anch’lo Lo Sport (via Goal.com's Matt Jones) that Honda would be a revelation at the Serie A giants.
“I’m convinced he is a player who will be admired,” he said. “He is physically strong, has excellent technique and great personality.
At his best, Honda is also a superb distributor of the ball, and despite scoring just once in 13 Russian Premier League matches, this term he managed to generate 37 goalscoring opportunities for his teammates, according to Squawka.
If Mario Balotelli can hit a purple patch thanks to the service he’ll get from Honda, perhaps both players can have a lot to do with a much better second half to the season at Milan than the first.
Not that the club’s winter makeover should end with Honda’s acquisition.
Allegri could certainly do with another dependable striker, and his side also tends to lack both creativity from deeper in the midfield and reliability at the full-back positions. Both are areas that will need to be addressed if the Rossoneri hope to climb back up the table and into a Champions League position.
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