CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda has been linked with practically all of Europe’s elite clubs ever since his exhilarating performances for Japan in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He won two Man of the Match awards and scored two sublime free kicks to get Japan as far as the second round, before losing on penalties to quarterfinalists Paraguay.
At the time, Wenger already had Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the playmaker department, so there was no real reason for him to put a bid in for the player. Two years on, Honda remains at CSKA and has publicly stated his desperation to leave the Russian capital. As it happens, Arsenal could do with a player of his qualities around now.
Since the World Cup, Honda has been a mainstay in the CSKA Moscow side. His ability to spark an immediate goal scoring opportunity from a quick burst of pace has become invaluable for Moscow, and his decisive free kicks and penalties have been essential.
Honda has the distinction of being the first Japanese player to appear in a UEFA Champions League quarter final game, coincidentally his first start for Moscow.
The 2011 AFC Asian Cup saw Honda’s importance to his country rise even further. Again he was nominated Man of the Match twice and scored two free kicks and penalties ensuring his country won the cup. At the end of the tournament, Honda was voted Most Valuable Player for his efforts.
Honda has often spoken of his contempt at playing and living in Moscow and has made no secret of his desire to leave. Whilst Arsenal were making their mad trolley dash around Europe for players on the last day of the window, Honda was said to have been enquired about. Moscow refused to negotiate a deal for their best player on transfer deadline day, however.
Lazio were reported to have all but agreed a deal to sign Honda in the January transfer window, but the deal broke down due to discrepancies over Lazio’s payment to Moscow for the player. Honda clearly has his heart set on a move to central Europe.
There are, at the very least, three clear reasons why Honda would want to move to the Emirates in the summer:
1. Wenger has a more than adequate command of the Japanese language after spending over a year, prior to managing Arsenal, at Nagoya Grampus Eight—Honda’s first club.
2. National team compatriot Ryo Miyaichi is at the club, who is making great strides with Bolton Wanderers on loan at the moment. Some fellow Bleacher Report columnists have likened the diminutive winger to Lionel Messi. Whilst that comparison is severely premature, Miyaichi no doubt has an incredibly promising future and could help persuade Honda’s judgment.
3. The obvious reason: Arsenal are a top English Premier League side, fighting for the title and Champions League.
Honda’s speed, trickery, clinical finishing and ability to score stunning free kicks make an exceptional talent and an ideal candidate to be in the current Arsenal side. With players like Robin Van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaine around him, who knows how successful a player Honda could become.