Only haven Everton can offer AC Milan outcast is on their bench

There is something about seeing Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda’s name being linked with a move to Everton that feels natural.

A player of strong technical ability, but not of elite level, the AC Milan number 10 is the kind of player that Goodison Park has seen among their ranks time and again through history.

Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Nick Barmby and Andrei Kanchelskis are just a smattering of former Toffees that fit that bill. Honda’s arrival would keep up the tradition, while adding some much needed depth to Roberto Martinez’s squad behind the striker.

The problem for Honda is that the Everton boss already has a technician with the potential to be elite at his disposal.

Ross Barkley has enjoyed the start of the season for both club and country. He has played in every minute of the Toffees’ first eight league games, scoring twice and registering three assists.

He has also advanced his case to be included in England’s Euro 2016 squad with two pleasing performances in the recent international break, despite Roy Hodgson’s best attempts to keep the midfielder grounded.

With the 21-year-old growing increasingly influential for Everton, it’s unlikely that signing Honda would threaten the Wavertree native’s place in the side.

That news may not be all that heartening to the Japanese international, who has grown frustrated at the San Siro both by a lack of playing opportunities and what he believes to be unfair criticism from his manager.

Honda has only made three Serie A starts for Sinisa Mihajlovic this term and recently hit out at his manager’s public criticism of the side’s form.

With his situation in Milan growing increasingly thorny, a move away from the Rossoneri may be Honda’s preferred solution. However, he certainly wouldn’t be regarded a regular starter in his favourite position should Everton come calling.

The Merseyside club return to Premier League action at home to Manchester United at the weekend, with Ladbrokes making them a 9/4 chance for victory.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.