Japanese star may be recruited into the A-League
JAPANESE star Keisuke Honda is on a short list of six players in the sights of Football Federation Australia as it looks to inject the A-League with some marquee magic next season.
As the governing body continues its bold pursuit of Andres Iniesta, several other big-name players from around the world have been contacted over possible moves to Australia to try to boost flagging crowds and TV ratings.
Ex-AC Milan midfielder Honda is one of them.
The 31-year-old is on the lookout for a new home after recently announcing he will leave Mexican club Pachuca at the end of the season to "try new things".
Capped 93 times for the Japanese national team, the blonde-haired Honda played at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. He was part of the team that beat the Socceroos to win the Asian Cup in 2011.
He scored 10 times in 29 appearances this term in the Mexican Liga MX.
Professional Footballers Australia is believed to have helped FFA put together a short list of potential marquee signings, which includes Honda, in a concerted effort to bring more established stars to the A-League.
Several clubs have shown interest in using a $3 million fund provided by Fox Sports for marquee players, but the finer details of how it will be used are yet to be ironed out.
It's understood no call has been made yet on whether clubs will be given a third marquee slot, as was the case two years ago with Melbourne City's signing of Tim Cahill.
Honda has a bigger profile than Shinji Ono, who lit up the A-League in his two seasons with Western Sydney, and is viewed as a much more realistic proposition than Iniesta, should FFA's bid for the Barcelona legend fall short as expected.
The A-League simply cannot compete with some of the offers Iniesta is likely to field worldwide.
But FFA's strategy will centre on lifestyle - much like Sydney FC's pitch to Alessandro Del Piero - as well as the Spaniard's interest in food and wine. Iniesta is a budding winemaker and has his own label, Bodega Iniesta.
Whether the relative anonymity he could enjoy in Australia, compared to China or Japan, will be enough to convince him to make an enormous financial sacrifice remains to be seen.
FFA chiefs still believe they're at least in with a shot, though, and remain in dialogue with Iniesta's management through an intermediary.
Iniesta, 34, told media in Spain he would make a decision in the next week to 10 days.