Another transfer window has come and gone with Keisuke Honda failing to find a way out of Moscow. Things may not be all doom and gloom though, and his perfect move may still be on the cards…
Keisuke Honda has become something of a forgotten man of late.
Injury, the increasing amount of success being enjoyed by his compatriots in Europe, and the large contract he is stuck on at CSKA Moscow have all combined to shift the player – who after his move to and success at VVV Venlo was seen as something of a trailblazer for Japanese football, and just 18 months ago was undoubtedly the hottest Japanese property going – to the margins somewhat.
Every transfer window rumours circulate linking him to some of the biggest clubs in Europe, yet nothing ever materialises.
Whether many of these stories have cropped up as a result of genuine interest from the sides involved or because of clever manoeuvring on the part of Honda and his representatives is certainly open to debate, although the most recent fiasco involving Lazio did look to be a done deal.
In the end the two clubs could not agree on a fee though – he is only halfway through a four year contract so CSKA have no pressing need to sell – and, as he himself predicted, the move fell through right at the death.
“In modern football, anything can happen at the last moment,” Russian news network RT reported Honda as having told Sports Nippon a couple of days ahead of the deadline. “But my desire is clear – I want to play in the Italian championship.”
He won’t be getting to do that any time soon, and although a huge clash against Real Madrid this month will soften the blow a little, he must privately be seething to still be snowed in in Russia.
While the initial feelings will be of regret, this latest failure to change clubs may not be the end of the world though, and it still leaves the door open for him to join Liverpool – a club at which I believe he could become a big success.
It had long been assumed that Honda’s next progression would be to Merseyside, and it is a transfer that would make a lot of sense.
He has made under 50 appearances in his two years with CSKA and needs to be playing regularly and at a higher level if he wants to reach his full potential.
Liverpool, like Lazio, are a big club who would constitute a step up, without being at the very top level where competition for places is too fierce.
At the very best clubs he would in no way be guaranteed minutes, or even a place on an expensively-assembled bench. Too much time on the sidelines at this stage of his career would be a poor move to make. Especially as more and more of his Japanese teammates continue to move up through the gears.
He thrives as the main man in the team, and needs the play to be built up around him if his teammates are to fully benefit from his abilities.
His presence and strength at holding the ball up, as well as his fantastic awareness and ability to pick out a pass would be a welcome addition to Kenny Dalglish’s side, who need a focal point with £35 million man Andy Carroll misfiring after his big money move this time last year.
Honda rarely, if ever, shows any nerves out on the pitch, and would be unlikely to experience any such stage-fright at Anfield. He is supremely confident in his own ability – almost to the point of arrogance – and would thrive on the pressure of playing in front of the Kop.
He also speaks excellent English – perhaps even better than the Geordie Carroll – which would help him to quickly settle.
The 25-year-old has the potential to link up superbly with Steven Gerrard, while his measured and studious approach would be perfectly complemented by the more lively styles of the likes of Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy.
Of course, whether Dalglish would be willing to admit defeat with regards to Carroll and be able to convince his bosses that Honda is worth another substantial outlay in the summer is unknown.
If he could then this latest hiccup may well prove to be a blessing in disguise for Honda though, and he may not have to wait too much longer to be back in the limelight.