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Japan midfielder Honda set to join AC Milan early in '14

MILAN -- Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda is set to join AC Milan early in the New Year, the Italian club's vice-president Adriano Galliani has confirmed.

Galliani broke the news about Honda after the player's current club, CSKA Moscow, were eliminated from the Champions League on Tuesday.

“Now we can talk. From January 3, 2014 Keisuke Honda will be a Milan player,” Galliani said on the club's official website.

“We had already set out a contract but put it to one side. Now we can talk, but it will be difficult as he is a non-EU player, and I don't know if he can already play from January 6 against Atalanta. Later he will make his debut away to Sassuolo.”

Honda joined CSKA Moscow in 2010, moving to Russia after two years with Dutch side VVV Venlo.

The 27-year-old has been capped 52 times for Japan and scored 20 goals, two of which came at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Honda had been linked to Milan for several months. The Serie A side tried to sign him during the summer transfer window but failed to reach agreement with CSKA after the Russians demanded a 5-million-euro (US$6.7 million) transfer fee.

Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport said Milan have acquired Honda on a free transfer following the breakdown of talks last summer.

A statement on CSKA's official website wished Honda “all the best” at his new club.

“After returning to Moscow from Plzen, Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda, whose contract with the Army Club has expired, said his farewell to the partners and left Russia,” said the statement on www.pfc-cska.com

“CSKA thanks Keisuke for his contribution and wishes all the best in his future career.”

Seven-time champions Milan qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday for the 11th consecutive season following a scoreless draw with Ajax at the San Siro.

Honda, however, can play no part in the knockout phase having played for CSKA Moscow during a Group D campaign in which the Russians finished last, behind winners Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen.

When he lines up for Milan in January, Honda will also hope to find the club in ruder health than it has been since the start of the season.

For the second consecutive campaign Milan's run-in to Christmas is anything but festive — they currently sit ninth in Serie A, 22 points behind leaders Juventus and 14 adrift of the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Milan face a tough run-in to the winter break with games against Roma, at home on Monday, followed by the Milan derby at the San Siro on Dec. 22.

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