Milan attacker Keisuke Honda could be set for a sudden move to Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, according to Italian website TuttoMercatoWeb.
The 30-year-old recently began his fourth year with the Serie A side, but has found himself surplus to manager Vincenzo Montella’s tactics and was expected to leave the club at the end of the season.
After negotiations with Sunderland, Hull City, and the Los Angeles Galaxy fell through during the January transfer window, TMW reports that Honda may be bound for the defending MLS champions, which would allow Milan to salvage transfer fee before his contract expires in June.
Honda is the second Samurai Blue star to come up on the Sounders’ transfer radar this winter after they failed to acquire Hiroshi Kiyotake from Sevilla during the January transfer window. The northwestern US club, who won their first-ever MLS Cup last December, are said to have been prepared to match Sevilla’s €6 million asking price for Kiyotake and would presumably have those funds still available.
With the move, Honda could become the first Asian player to join the MLS under their ‘Designated Player Rule’, which allows clubs to sign marquee players outside of their salary cap. His presence would give the league a significant promotional boost in Japan, where baseball player Ichiro Suzuki became a household name while playing for the Seattle Mariners.
The Sounders are scheduled to kick off their 2017 campaign at Houston Dynamo on March 4 and Montreal Impact on March 11 before their home opener against New York Red Bulls on March 19.