Keisuke Honda says his protracted transfer from CSKA Moscow to AC Milan is in the final stages of completion, despite both clubs previously stating that negotiations would not be going any further.
The Rossoneri have already agreed terms with Honda for a transfer in January, when his contract with the Russian side expires.
Milan have also made an offer to bring that transfer forward, but this has been rejected by CSKA.
On Sunday, Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani said his club would not be making an improved bid, and that he therefore considered the issue closed.
Meanwhile, CSKA president Yevgeny Giner said the constant rumours, and Milan’s conduct, were getting on his nerves.
“We are not selling Honda to Milan,” he told Russia’s Sport Express. “Not for five million dollars or for ten. We are against selling our players to prestigious European clubs and there are plenty of examples which confirm this.
“We were open to consider an offer if it had been made by the club directly, but they decided to bypass CSKA and create a conflict between us and Honda. A certain ethic to negotiations should be respected.”
Nevertheless, Honda has not given up on joining Milan in time to make his debut in the Champions League play-off against PSV Eindhoven in just over a week’s time.
“Negotiations are underway and they are in the final stages,” he is quoted as saying by Japanese newspaper Nikkan Sports.
With Giampaolo Pazzini and Robinho currently sidelined by injury, and both Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli looking some way short of their best condition, a swoop for a player who is already in the midst of the Russian season could help Milan in their quest to reach the group stage of the Champions League.
The start of the Serie A season is sandwiched between Milan’s two-legged play-off with PSV, who have also already got several league games under their belts.
This is the greatest concern for Milan, according to their captain Riccardo Montolivo.
“It’s going to be a tough game and it’s going to be important that we’re ready for it,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “At the start of the season, sometimes the physical condition counts more than the technical aspect.”
Udinese have discovered that to their cost in recent seasons, going down to Arsenal and Sporting Braga, while Sampdoria were also eliminated by Werder Bremen.
However, Montolivo believes Milan are more mature and will be ready for both the Champions League and a tilt at the Serie A title.
“We are more of a team than we were last year,” he said. “We are stronger and we feel more ready. Of course Juve are strong and they have strengthened, but there are many clubs on the front row: Inter [Milan], Roma, Fiorentina, Napoli. And Milan.”