Keisuke Honda is headed to the A-League.
Keisuke Honda is headed to the A-League.

Muscat passion proved big lure for Japan star

MELBOURNE Victory have confirmed the signing of Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda for the upcoming A-League season.

Honda is the highest-profile player to join the competition since David Villa's four-match loan stint at Melbourne City in 2014 and arguably the biggest name Victory have signed in the club's 13-year history.

The 32-year-old, who will arrive in Melbourne next week, shapes as the new focal point in a retooled attack for the defending champions.

Honda revealed he was surprised to discover strong interest from Victory the week after Japan were knocked out of the World Cup in Russia.

"I couldn't believe that because I'm Japanese and I never thought I would play in Australia in my career," Honda said.

"I (wanted) a new challenge so I'm satisfied.

"I checked a couple of things. Melbourne Victory is the most successful club in the A-League.

"I think that's amazing, they became champions many times.

"Also the manager Kevin (Muscat) is a really nice guy. When I talked with him, he has big, big passion.

"I love it."

Honda is the only Japanese player to have scored at three different World Cups - in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

He spent two-and-a-half years at Italian club AC Milan.

"It goes without saying that Keisuke has consistently proven himself at the highest level and we can't wait to see what he can do in Melbourne," Muscat said.

"He brings world-class ability and offers great flexibility in the front third of the pitch.

"It's obviously an added benefit to have him a part of our AFC Asian Champions League campaign too."

The deal with Honda was clinched with support from Football Federation Australia and Fox Sports, who have tipped in financially from their centralised $3m marquee fund.

"To have a player of his experience, calibre and marketability will also boost the A-League's image and reputation within the Asian region and around the world," FFA chief executive David Gallop said.

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