Back in September, Seattle Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey was asked if the team had ever considered signing a Japanese Designated Player. At the time, Lagerwey mentioned Hiroshi Kiyotake by name. The 27-year-old midfielder eventually signed with Sevilla, where’s he’s been sparsely used.
Supposedly, the Sounders are among the teams interested in another Japanese midfielder: AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda.
There was a time when Honda was considered one of the best players Japan had ever produced, peaking with a 16-goal 2008-09 season for VVV-Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie. He’d go on to have several productive seasons with CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League and sign with AC Milan on a free transfer during the 2013-14 season.
His stay in Milan has not gone well, for the most part. Although he scored six goals in his first full season there in 2014-15, Honda has just one league goal in the past two seasons and has only made one start this year. While the 30-year-old continues to score for Japan — 12 goals in 24 caps since the start of 2015 — it’s not hard to see why he’s looking to make another move.
Aside from his age and club-level struggles, his position is another reason to be at least some what skeptical. Honda has basically a left-footed right wing, who’s very good on set pieces. In other words, he’s a lot like Nicolas Lodeiro.
On the other hand, he’s probably reasonably affordable and clearly not entirely washed up as his national team production shows. Based on the Sounders’ pursuit of Hilal Soudani, they also aren’t ruling out left-footed players who prefer to play on the right side.
Either way, it’s another name to mull. Expect to see a lot of these.
Keisuke Honda’s club stats since 2008-09