Many moons ago, well, 2001 in fact, Arsene Wenger, who once managed in Japan with the brilliantly named Nagoya Grampus Eight, took Junichi Inamoto to Highbury in a transfer many thought was a cynical move made for commercial, as opposed to footballing, reasons. Either way, Inamoto went on to relative success with Fulham and West Brom, but didn’t cut the mustard for title-chasing Arsenal.
Now it seems Wenger is after another Japanese international, but this time the player in question has experience of European football, having played in the Eridivisie and the Russian Premier League. So who is the player in question and what is Liverpool’s view of him?
Keisuke Honda is a 24-year-old attacking midfielder who is currently plying his trade with Russia’s CSKA Moscow. The Japanese international, who has 28 caps, had an outstanding World Cup in South Africa last year, where he was one of the few players able to tame the notorious ‘Jabulani’ match-ball enough to score with a direct free kick.
After a number of man of the match performances and an equally impressive turn at this year’s Asian Cup (Honda, in an appallingly American tradition, was voted MVP) the midfielder, who plays in an advanced position and has a great eye for goal has become a hot property on the European transfer market.
Both Arsene Wenger and Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish are reportedly interested in bringing the gifted Japanese to the Premier League, with Wenger looking for more attacking options in midfield and Dalglish looking to perform a drastic shake-up of the Liverpool squad.
The midfielder, who only joined CSKA last year, has passed no comment on the rumours, but the lure of the Premier League and the riches it brings, combined with the opportunity to join a major European club like Arsenal or Liverpool might be enough to convince Honda to leave Russia for England.
Having only recently purchased the Japanese attacker for €6million, CSKA Moscow will want a substantial profit if they are to sell in the summer, with the transfer fee for Honda expected to be around the €10million mark. Such a fee would provide no obstacle to Liverpool’s new owners NESV, or for Arsenal who are financially one of the best run clubs in England.
For more rumour, conjecture, thoughts and theories, follow me on Twitter: @stuartcfootball
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