Thursday Nov 26, 2015  
  28/01/2012: What does Honda bring to the table?
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With only three days remaining in the January mercato, Lazio are yet to reinforce a stretched midfield. This month has not been short of rumours, as the number of players linked to the Roman club has been well into double figures. There have been plentiful shifts of momentum, with the pendulum swinging between Parolo, Kuzmanovic, Kone, Constant and Krasic. However, it seems that we may finally have our man. Negotiations are still ongoing, but at this point it seems likely that the Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda will be joining us from CSKA Moscow. At this point, CSKA are demanding around 14.5m Euro for him, whereas Lotito is offering 2m up front, with an option to buy in the summer for another 10m. He is also hoping to add our eccentric Argentinian flop Juan Pablo Carrizo into the bargain.

Hopefully I’m not too hasty in writing this, but I thought I’d have a look at what Honda would add to the current Lazio squad should he arrive. The number one reason for his arrival is our serious lack of attacking options from midfield, with Hernanes our only player capable of filling the trequartista role that Reja is so intent on using. This has resulted in some poor performances from the Brazilian, who has been overplayed all season and often looks tired or struggling to cope with the pressure of being the team’s only creative outlet.

Honda would provide an alternative to Hernanes in this role, should Reja wish to replace or rest him. However, the Japanese is also capable of playing in a three man midfield or on the wing should we revert to last season’s popular option of 4-2-3-1. His versatility would be a great asset, as would his contribution to our attacking threat. He is a certain threat from set pieces, an ability that brought him to the attention of the world audience at the 2010 World Cup as he impressed for Japan and scored a stunning free kick against Denmark. His goal tally for CSKA is impressive, as this season he has scored 7 in 16 appearances, although often playing as a deep-lying playmaker. The previous season in Russia Honda scored 5 goals and made 4 assists in 23 appearances, earning him the Japanese player of the year award in 2010.

Keisuke has made no secret of his desire to come to Rome, stating in a recent interview ‘I want to go to Lazio. The Italian championship is one of the most difficult for attacking players, it’s very tactical and the defences are very solid. It wouldn’t be easy to assert myself but I want this challenge’.

The only doubts that are remaining over the transfer concern Lotito’s willingness to part with big money. Since his arrival, the president has only twice paid double figures for players, Mauro Zarate and Hernanes. Perhaps the failure of Zarate has put him off impulsive and hurried moves, and it’s for this reason that he is so intent on loaning the player first with an option to buy in the summer. It seems obvious to any observer that without some fresh attacking impetus, Lazio’s slide down the table will only continue. Honda would provide a new dimension to the possibilities of this Lazio side, and a failure to sign him could consign the biancoceleste to a difficult second half of the season as an increasingly shaky defence has been exposed and the only addition to a stale attack has been the untested Uruguayan Emiliano Alfaro.

Should Lotito part with the cash, it would be a significant step in repairing his relationship with the Lazio tifosi. Honda could be the man to save our season, and should this happen a lot of credit would go to the president. So come on Claudio, time to be a hero...

(Alasdair Mackenzie)
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