Honda's impact at Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Epsilon/Getty ImagesMilan hope Keisuke Honda will provide a big boost come January.

It has always seemed inevitable that Keisuke Honda will become a Milan player, but the question remained whether or not it would become a reality this summer or in January.

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani stated on Monday that there were "decisive hours" ahead, but while there was optimism in the Milan camp that a deal could be done this summer, CSKA director Roman Babaev dampened spirits.

Having suggested that they will not offer any discount on the player, and that it was entirely feasible that he will remain in Russia until January, it would appear that the Rossoneri will have to wait until the New Year to welcome their new signing, pending talks between the player and the CSKA president.

After endless negotiations which included Milan making requests to sponsors to help fund the move, the inability to reach an agreement would not only be disappointing in that it delays Honda's dream move, but it would also rule him out of the Champions League should Milan reach the knock-out stages.

From a business perspective, the move makes sense for the Russian outfit, who will undoubtedly benefit from their star helping them make progress in the first part of the season both on the pitch and financially.

However, now that the timing of Honda's arrival looks to have been decided, will the Japanese playmaker have an entirely positive impact when he joins the Rossoneri?

Honda is undoubtedly a vastly talented player and can be deployed both in the trequartista role and in wide positions. Technically gifted and at ease with the ball at his feet, his electric acceleration could well see him thrive in this current Milan set-up.

In addition, he offers another dangerous threat in set-piece situations and both his vision and execution will ensure he is a welcome addition to Massimiliano Allegri's squad if he is to play behind the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli.

His arrival would also be beneficial off the pitch, with his commercial appeal expected to significantly boost finances at the club. While that is merely a secondary thought when discussing his potential impact, it is one well worth considering as the financial health of the club continues to improve.

However, there are also potential pitfalls that could be associated with his signing too. What impact would his arrival have on the development of Riccardo Saponara?

Galliani suggested earlier this summer that Milan had changed their tactical set-up based on the youngster's arrival and his ability to play in the trequartista role. Coupled with Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng remaining at the club, it is already unclear as to who will be preferred.

Given the number of options Allegri has in midfield and those capable of playing as a supporting striker, would it be possible to field the duo together in inter-changing roles, or would there be a case to suggest that Saponara's development through regular playing time would have to be sacrificed?

The arrival of Honda is undoubtedly a positive, but the repercussions for others in the squad could see it turned into a negative. The Rossoneri's strength lies in their depth in both midfield and in attack, thus creating a real imbalance when considering the back-line. However, similarly with Bryan Cristante, there is a danger that the inclusion of youth in the first-team becomes a gesture rather than a real statement of intent.

The initial reaction to the news is one of disappointment, but what the potential postponement of Honda's arrival could do is provide Saponara with five months to prove why he should be a mainstay in Allegri's line-up.

Meanwhile, the hope could now be that Honda will provide the kind of mid-season boost that Balotelli served up last season, but hopefully with the objectives raised higher than a mere third-place finish.

Will Honda be a significant jump in class for Milan? Could his arrival even aid Saponara as Milan look to compete on three fronts?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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