Sunday January 5 2014
Zac: 'Honda has character'

Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni praised the “character” of Keisuke Honda, as Milan enjoy the off-field effects of his arrival.

Honda flew in to Malpensa Airport on Saturday evening and was greeted by hundreds of fans and photographers.

He is undergoing his medical at the training ground this morning and will be in the stands for tomorrow afternoon’s Milan-Atalanta match at San Siro.

Honda was a free transfer after his contract with CSKA Moscow expired on December 31, but he won’t be eligible for the Champions League games this season.

“In my view, he is a top player,” Japan Coach Zaccheroni told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He’s certainly a great signing and I am astounded Keisuke hadn’t reached one of the most important Leagues before. Perhaps it was the transfer fee causing the problem, as it wasn’t easy for Milan to take him away from CSKA Moscow.

“He has character as well as strength, technique and stamina. He’s naturally left-footed, has a great shot, takes good free kicks and is very difficult to knock down.

“Honda is an atypical Japanese player, even though he himself is very tied to his homeland. When he talks, it is never something banal.

“He’s a character and that is essential at Milan. You could have the technique of Diego Maradona, but if you don’t have character then you won’t last long at Milan.”

According to Tuttosport, the marketing campaign around Honda’s arrival in Serie A is already in full swing and worth €7m per season – not counting shirt sales.

It’s rumoured some of Milan’s matches could even be moved in order to have kick-off times more suited to the Japanese television audience.

This would see the Rossoneri play more often at 11.30am GMT, which is 12.30 in Italy and 20.30 in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Zaccheroni was also asked about reports he could replace Cesare Prandelli as Italy Coach after the World Cup.

“I don’t know if I’ll return to Italy, as right now I am the Japan manager and concentrated on the tournament. I haven’t had any contact with the Italian Federation and it’s not true that I already told the Japanese directors I’ll quit after the World Cup.

“I will make every decision in due time, as I always have done. It might seem as if six months isn’t a long time, but many things can change in six months.”

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