Melbourne Victory seal signing of Japan striker Keisuke Honda
Melbourne Victory confirmed the signing of Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda for the upcoming A-League season on Monday.
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 has signed in the club's 13-year history.
The 32-year-old, who is expected to arrive in Melbourne next week, shapes as the new focal point in a retooled attack for the defending champions after the departure of striker Besart Berisha.
"We're honoured that he's chosen to join our club this season," Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro told a media conference in Melbourne on Monday.
"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. 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."
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Honda was a fee agent after leaving Mexican side Pachuca in June. The former AC Milan player bowed out of international football after Japan's exit from the last-16 at the World Cup in Russia. His goal against Senegal made him his nation's only player to have scored at three of the global showpieces.
However, the forward has said he would love the chance to star in his homeland as one of three overage players at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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 told Fox Sports. "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."
The deal with Honda was clinched with support from Football Federation Australia and Fox Sports, who have tipped in financially from their centralised $3 million 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.