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Honda: Finally moving to AC Milan (by Don Boter )

AC Milan will officially complete the signing of CSKA Moscow’s Attacking Midfielder Keisuke Honda on January 3, Club vice president Adriano Galliani has confirmed.

The Diavolo will net the Japanese international on a Bosman free transfer given that his contract with the Russians will expire at the end of this month. The Japan international was earlier expected to join the Milanello side ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, but the club management ultimately failed to reach an agreement with the Moscow based club over a transfer fee. However, Galliani has announced today that the 27-year-old Honda will make his belated arrival at San Siro during the upcoming winter break.

“Honda will be a Milan player Jan. 3 and will wear the No. 10 jersey,” Galliani told reporters. “We can finally end the secrecy. The deal can be made official now. I do not know whether he will already be available on Jan. 6 [against Atalanta] due to all the paperwork that will have to be sorted.”

Honda started his professional career with Nagoya Grampus and had his first European stint with Eredivisie side VVV. On the 16th of January, 2008, Honda signed a two and half-year deal with Venlo. In his first six months at VVV, Keisuke experienced relegation for the first time in his professional career as his new side went down to Eerste Divisie i.e. the second division. In the 08–09 Season, he scored 16 goals in 36 league appearances to help the team back into the First Division.

Breakthrough move of Honda’s career was a transfer to CSKA Moskva in January 2010. Honda made his debut for CSKA in the Champions League match against La Liga side Sevilla. In the second leg in Seville, he scored the winning goal through a free kick for CSKA after having set up the first goal for Necid. This secured a 2–1 (3–2 aggregate) victory to send the club to the quarterfinals, making Honda the first Japanese player ever to be in the quarterfinals as well as the first to score in the knock-out stages. Milan did try to grab the 27-year-old in the summer for a nominal fee, but CSKA refused to sell. Honda has made 94 appearances for CSKA till date, scoring 20 goals in the process.

Honda also had memorable 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored the only goal in Japan’s group game against African side Cameroon, finishing off Matsui’s cross into the top left corner of the net. His excellent performance in the game gained him the Man of the Match Award and the 1-0 victory was Japan’s first World Cup triumph on foreign soil. In the final group-stage game against Denmark, he scored a magnificent free kick in the 17th minute from 30 yards out.

Honda is the second player who is confirmed to join Milan in January as they have already confirmed the signing of Adil Ramy of Valencia.

While Honda is on his way into Milanello, it is being suggested that youngsters Bryan Cristante, Riccardo Saponara and M’Baye Niang will be released on loan.