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Captain Tsubasa has come to Milan: Honda, the new “10” of the Rossoneri
Keisuke will be the first Japanese ever to wear the Rossoneri jersey. However Allegri has a variety of talented players in the same position. Who will play?
by Mohamed Ezzat
In the early 90s there was a famous cartoon aired all over the world, exported from Japan. In Italy it was called “Holly e Benji” but the real name was “Captain Tsubasa”. Millions of children loved the anime, and despite the fact that Japan was not exactly a football world power at the time, it seems that Captain Tsubasa had a certain influence over a young Japanese kid: Keisuke Honda. He is the first Japanese ever to wear the Rossoneri jersey.

 

Honda, 27, has just landed to Milan from CSKA Moscow. He is an attacking midfielder, a role that was interpreted by glorious players in the past at Milan: Gianni Rivera, Clarence Seedorf, Manuel Rui Costa just to name a few. And glorious is also the number he is going to wear: the number 10. Honda grew up in the city of Settsu, Osaka, and with a height of 1,82 and 74 kg of weight he has the proper physical structure for the Italian league.

 

In august 2011 the Japanese international had knee surgery that was followed by knee problems for almost 3 months. This prevented him from helping his national team in the qualifications for WC 2014. Hopefully this injury won’t affect his chances of permanent participation with the squad in the future.

 

He has a strong personality and is the type of a player that Milan was looking for. Honda was 3 times man of the match in the World Cup of 2010, Japanese player of the year in 2010, AFC Asian Cup most valuable player in 2011. He is not an Ibrahimovic-like player: he doesn’t jump form a club to another every one or two years and his career testifies it. From the beginning of his footballer life, which started in 2004, he changed only three clubs: the Japanese Nagoya Grampus, the Dutch VVV Venlo and the Russian CSKA Moscow. He signed with Milan a three and half years deal until June 2017.

 

Honda will be effective in both ends of the field, in the best way that serves Milan. His playing style is made of short passes, which could be profitable with forwards like Mario Balotelli, Giampaolo Pazzini and Stephan El Shaarawy, who will all be at the receiving end of his assists. Although he’s not so good at tackling, the Japanese’s dynamism will be useful also in the defensive phase: he will help his teammates to stop the opposition’s counter-attacks, a very big issue for Milan this season. When he does not play in the center, he covers the right flank cutting inside: with his left footed long shots to the far posts he can create dangers for the opponents in any moment.

 

Milan will have a variety of talented players in the same position: Kakà, Robinho, Riccardo Montolivo. This abundance could be useful for the team considering all the competitions they are still going through. For coach Massimiliano Allegri it will be a puzzle to solve. Who will play as central midfielder?

Friday, January 3 rd, 2014
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