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Keisuke Honda is on his way to Milan, but when?

Jul 3, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT

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Now that Keisuke Honda and AC Milan have, according to Sky Italia, come to an agreement on personal terms, it’s just a matter of when the Japanese international will join the Rossoneri. With six months left on his contract in Russia, Honda is free to sign a pre-contract deal with anybody. Now it’s just a matter of whether he moves before his deal expires in December or he plays out the first half of the season for CSKA Moscow.

There is another reported caveat before Honda can move to Milan. Adriano Galliani apparently needs to find a new home for Brazilian attacker Robinho, a player whose slowly become an albatross on the Milan payroll since his 2010 acquisition from Manchester City. Milan, however, seem confident that Santos, a team that has already had Robinho for two spells, would be willing to pay north of $10 million to get him back. (PS, Milan, what are you waiting for? Sell!)

If that happens, Milan may be more inclined to meet CSKA’s asking price, reportedly just over $9 million to let Honda tack on an extra six months to a 4-year, $13 million deal. Expect that asking price to go down, though. To some’s eyes, $9 million is too much for a 27-year-old who can join the team in December for free. The only danger for Milan is Honda potentially being cup-tied for Champions League, with CSKA having also qualified for the competition.

Regardless, expect Mario Balotelli to be one happier Rossonero at hearing this news. Likewise, expect Stephan El Shaarawy and M’Baye Niang to crack a smile at the idea of Honda slotted in behind Balotelli, pulling the strings at the top of a midfield triangle. It’s exactly the kind of presence they need after Balotelli’s January arrival (the extent to which a team that surged to third can be said to have needed anything).

For Honda, it’s the type of move that’s been a long time coming. Though he has battled injuries since moving to Russia from Holland’s VVV in 2010, the time’s he’s spent on the field has shown a player capable of performing in one of the few leagues that can offer a higher quality of play. Italy’s Serie A may be one of those leagues.

Now we wait and see how Honda will perform. But does that wait end in August? Or January?

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