MILAN, ITALY – Midfielder Keisuke Honda said on Twitter on Sunday he will be departing AC Milan at the end of the season, bringing an end to a difficult stint at the Italian giant that was characterized by frustratingly limited playing time.
But the 30-year-old Japan international refused to go quietly, scoring his first — and probably last — goal of the Serie A season as AC Milan beat Bologna 3-0 at the San Siro on Sunday. His last game in Milan’s famous black and red uniform will come against Cagliari on May 28.
“My dearest Milan supporters, thank you. It has been a challenging 3½ years but because of that I have been able to grow as a person,” he wrote in Italian shortly after the team secured its place in next season’s Europa League with a sixth-place Serie A finish.
“I will be leaving Milan after this season, but I look forward to seeing you again soon. I may not be a player then, who knows in what way we’ll meet. I will continue to work hard every day to achieve my goals. Forza Milan!”
On Sunday, Honda replaced Carlos Bacca 12 minutes after the break and scored a free kick with a left-footed shot to the bottom-right corner 16 minutes later to make it 2-0. The goal was his first since Feb. 14, 2016.
It was the seventh appearance this season for Honda, who has struggled to earn playing time since joining Milan in January 2014 on a free transfer and signing a 3½-year contract.
In Barcelona, Takashi Inui became the first Japanese player in La Liga history to score against Barcelona and his brace gave Eibar a 2-0 lead, but Barcelona responded with four goals, including two from Lionel Messi, in the final 27 minutes to win 4-2.
“I’m really happy that I was able to score two goals at the end of the season in this way, and I’ll never forget this day. It will surely leave a lasting memory,” said Inui.
“(Because it was an away game) I didn’t hear any cheering so it didn’t feel real,” he said of his two goals at the Nou Camp.