CSKA Moscow attacker Keisuke Honda is closing on a move to Serie A side Lazio, despite the Japanese saying that Italy can no longer claim to have the best league in the world.
Honda, 25, has been linked with Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain in January after admitting he wanted to leave the Russian side, but now appears on the verge of a transfer to Rome.
"It's true that I'm positive about a move to Lazio," he told Japan's Nikkan Sports. "The clubs are in the final stage of negotiations. But I haven't made a formal agreement with the club yet, and in today's football world anything can happen up to the last hour of the transfer window."
The Japanese international, who is recovering from a knee injury, rose to prominence with his attacking performances at the 2010 World Cup and insisted that although it was not the best league anymore, the defensive-minded Serie A was still appealing.
"It's no longer possible to say that Serie A is the best league in the world," he added. "And compared to previous years the quality has definitely gone down. But it's still the hardest league in the world to succeed in as an attacker, with such stiff defending. As a challenge it appeals to me, personally."
CSKA president Yevgeny Giner told Radio Mayak on Monday that CSKA and Lazio were "2 to 3 million euros apart" over their valuation of Honda, who, as one of Asia's top stars, would raise the profile of any club he joined on the world's biggest continent.