The 2017 season may only be a little more than a week from kicking off, but it’s starting to look like the Seattle Sounders may be poised to make one last big move. There are at least two outlets in Italy reporting that the Sounders are reasonably close to signing Japanese star Keisuke Honda, with one of those reports claiming an initial offer was made three days ago and another suggesting the deal could be finalized “in the coming hours.” (UPDATE: Gazzetta, a far more mainstream outlet, is now reporting that terms have been agreed to and that this is only awaiting final sign off from ownership.)
It should be said that both outlets are very much of the “rumor monger” variety, and that more mainstream outlets haven’t been independently reporting this, but there’s at least some reason to not dismiss the news out of hand.
Most importantly, Honda is very much on the outs at AC Milan. Honda has just five Serie A appearances this season, hasn’t played since Dec. 12, 2016 and has just one start all year. Honda had opened the season as a semi-regular contributor, but AC Milan’s acquisition of Gerard Deulofeu effectively pushed him further down the bench.
The 30-year-old should have plenty left, though. Although he’s now nearly two years removed from his last reasonably productive club season — he scored six Serie A goals for AC Milan in 2014-15 — Honda has remained productive on the international stage with seven goals during 2018 World Cup qualifying.
If there’s one reason to be a little skeptical, it’s that Honda has mostly filled roles very similar to those of Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro. Although he’s been deployed across the attacking band, most of his success has come as a withdrawn forward or a right-sided midfielder, cutting inside to his favored left foot.