Honda set to join Milan in January transfer deal

Kyodo

Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda will join Italian powerhouse AC Milan in January, Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said on the official website of the Serie A club on Wednesday.

“Now we can talk. From Jan. 3, 2014, Keisuke Honda will be a Milan player,” Galliani said after Honda’s CSKA Moscow was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport reported Honda will wear the No. 10 shirt for Milan, which is acquiring the 27-year-old’s services on a free transfer after failed talks last summer.

Galliani is uncertain if Honda will appear in a Jan. 6 league match at home to Atalanta, but added that “at the least” he will make his debut away at Sassuolo on Jan. 12.

Honda began his career with Nagoya Grampus in 2005 before moving to Dutch side VVV Venlo in 2008 and CSKA Moscow in 2010. He has been capped 52 times for Japan and scored 20 goals, including two at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Draw enough for Milan

Milan Italy AP

AC Milan is through to the Champions League last 16 after holding Ajax to a goalless draw despite playing most of the match with 10 men after captain Riccardo Montolivo was sent off.

Montolivo was shown a straight red card in the 22nd minute for a stamp on Christian Poulsen. The Ajax midfielder was loudly jeered every time he touched the ball and was substituted at halftime.

“It would have been a complicated match with 11 men. With 10 it became even more difficult,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “The lads deserved to qualify because we played very well today. We haven’t defended as well as that since the beginning of the season.”

Milan rarely threatened but managed to earn the draw it needed to qualify for the knockout stages for the 11th consecutive season.