• Kyodo


New AC Milan manager Vincenzo Montella praised midfielder Keisuke Honda during his introductory news conference Thursday, saying he would get to know the “fantastic” Japan international while taking the helm of the Serie A club.

“Honda is a fantastic player with well-defined characteristics,” Montella said. “As with all players, I want to start by gaining a deeper understanding of his game.

“We will evaluate (Honda’s) potential on a daily basis and then I’ll make my decision,” he said.

Honda, who turned 30 in June, joined Milan in January 2014 on a free transfer from CSKA Moscow and is under contract through next season.

The 42-year-old Montella is a former striker for the Italian national team and was a teammate of former Japan international Hidetoshi Nakata during their playing days for Roma.

He has coached Serie A squads since 2012, starting with Fiorentina, which he helped reach the Europa League semifinals in 2015, and most recently Sampdoria prior to signing his current two-year contract with Milan.

“The minimum goal is to get into Europe, this is our duty,” Montella said.

Milan’s loss to Juventus in the Italia Cup final in May closed them out of Europa League competition for this season. The club last appeared in the Champions League during the 2013-2014 campaign.

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