Despite landing Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas looks set to capture another playmaker in Keisuke Honda
The loss of Gareth Bale was always going to damage Tottenham, and whilst Andre Villas-Boas used some of the money to bring in Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela from Ajax and Roma respectively, strong reports are linking Keisuke Honda with a move to White Hart Lane - despite Italian media suggesting that AC Milan have already agreed a Bosman deal for the player.
The Japanese international, 27, has starred for CSKA Moscow since 2010 but has refused to sign a new contract, with his current one expiring on January 1st, 2014. Available for a free transfer, his availability has alerted a number of top European clubs, such as Premier League rivals Liverpool and Italian giants AC Milan, who almost tied up a £5m deal for Honda in August, only for the left footed playmaker to declare he will decide his future in the coming months.
‘I have a number of options – when the time comes I will make a decision,’ said Honda.
‘I have now decided I will leave my club at the expiry of the contract, everything else will be decided soon.’
A deadly set piece taker with an eye for goal, signing Honda on a free transfer would be an exceptional move by Villas-Boas and Spurs. His ability to play as a central attacking midfielder, on the flanks or even up front - where he played for Japan at the 2010 World Cup - makes him incredibly versatile and an asset to any team chasing Champions League football.
His role at Spurs would most likely to be to play behind Roberto Soldado, with Lamela and Eriksen flanking him, providing fearsome front four that could propel Tottenham into the top four for the third time in the last five years, but the first time under Villas-Boas.
Another train of thought is that Villas-Boas could deploy Honda as an out-and-out striker. Having seen Soldado score just two Premier League goals - both from the penalty spot - since his £26m switch from Valencia this summer, there are still improvements needed up top, particularly when you consider that Emmanuel Adebayor has been banished from the first team in order to try and usher the former Arsenal striker out of the door.
Factor in a handful of other attacking midfield players at the club - Nacer Chadli, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon - and signing another player in the same position seems unnecessary, adding more logic to the idea of Honda being brought in to play as a striker.
Whilst not a natural striker, Honda has shown that he can play up front, even as a lone striker, and his versatility will make him a key signing for Spurs - especially on a free transfer, as it's rare for a player of Honda's ability to be available for nothing halfway through a season.
image: © tpower1978