Muscat confirms Victory’s Honda chase
MELBOURNE Victory coach Kevin Muscat has confirmed his interest in signing Keisuke Honda as the A-League club inches closer to a marquee deal with the former Japanese international.
Honda has been on Victory's radar since his name emerged in May on a six-player shortlist of potential big-name recruits drawn up by Football Federation Australia.
The 32-year-old, who retired from international duty after the World Cup in Russia, has been in negotiations with the A-League champions ever since.
Muscat was reluctant to delve too deep into the matter for fear of derailing talks between the club and the former AC Milan star, but said Honda had already shown what he could bring to the competition based on his exploits against the Socceroos.
"Many of these type of marquee players have become available and have been offered to us," Muscat said on Monday.
"My immediate reaction is every decision we make is based around football first, not commercial, not marketing, not anything like that.
"When Honda's name was floated about, not only was I interested, I think everyone was interested because I think he's still got a lot of football (left in him) and he can add and give something back in terms of football to our competition.
"At this stage, I've no comment really to make on where we're at or what we're doing ... (but) I'll give you that and you can read between the lines."
Muscat's comments are the first on the public record regarding Honda from anyone at Victory and are as good a sign as any they remain firmly in the hunt for his signature.
Capped 98 times for the Samurai Blue, Honda would be the highest-profile player to come to the A-League since David Villa's four-match loan stint at Melbourne City in 2014.
Victory are cashed up after the sale of Besart Berisha to J-League outfit Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while FFA is expected to tip in around $2 million from their centralised marquee fund to sweeten the deal with Honda.
Muscat was confident of finding adequate replacements for the team's departed stars, playing down the recent exit of Dutch winger Leroy George.
"I don't think anyone in the country was aware of who Leroy George was before I brought him to the football club," Muscat said.
"And then all of a sudden it's a catastrophe that he's moving on. "(We will) find the next Leroy George."