Mixed transfer window for Asian stars

JOHN DUERDEN Associated Press Published:

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Big deals collapsed in the final hours, an unknown Korean was plucked from obscurity and some big names were put on the unwanted list, completing a tumultuous time for Asian footballers during Europe's January transfer window.

The most eagerly anticipated move never happened as the transfer of Keisuke Honda, Japan's most famous player, from CSKA Moscow to Italian powerhouse Lazio failed to go through.

Honda, who joined CSKA in December 2009 on a four-year contract and shone at the 2010 World Cup, had reportedly agreed personal terms with Lazio but the clubs could not strike a deal.

Reports suggested that Lazio's offer fell short of CSKA's 16 million euro ($21 million) asking price and the Rome team also wanted to pay in installments.

"The inappropriate approach to talks by Lazio played a role" CSKA general director Roman Babaev told Russian international news agency RIA Novosti. "This regards the price of the player and the manner of the negotiations, around which so many rumors swirled."

CSKA seems resigned to losing Honda. Besides Lazio, English clubs such as Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked to him in the past as has Sevilla in Spain.

CSKA not only kept Honda, but added another Asian player in a surprise move, signing Kim In-sung from second-tier Gangneung City, prompting many articles in the Korean media asking who he was.

CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky answered that he was surprised that Kim had never appeared for the national team or the country¡s professional K-League.

Kim could even feature against Real Madrid in the second round of the UEFA Champions League later in the month.

"I have been trying to make my strengths stronger as I have wanted to play in Europe and be a success there for a number of years," Kim said. "With my quick speed and accurate crossing, I can put European players under pressure and grow as a player."

South Korea's captain and number one striker Park Chu-young remained at Arsenal despite just seven minutes of English Premier League action since joining the club in August.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger did, however, allow Japanese teenager Ryo Miyaichi to depart, joining Bolton Wanderers on loan until the end of the season.

Bayern Munich decided not to extend its one-year loan period with another prospect from Japan, Takashi Usami. The 19 year-old will leave the German giants in July after struggling to secure playing time.

South Korean international midfielder Koo Ja-cheol was loaned out by Wolfsburg to relegation battler Augsburg.

Another proposed loan deal to take Japanese international striker Takayuki Morimoto to Chievo Verona from Serie A rivals Novara failed to go through on the final day.

Jong Tae Se became the first North Korean to play in the top tier of one of the major European leagues as the striker joined Bundesliga club Koln from second-tier Bochum.

While players from east Asia are common sights in Europe these days, those from the west rarely venture outside the region with the exception of Iran.

That may be changing, as United Arab Emirates international Hamdan Al Kamali completed a six-month loan deal to join Lyon, France' top team of the past decade.

Those involved in the Emirates football scene, such as Al Wahda's Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger, believe that more such transfers will help the country catch up with the likes of Japan and South Korea, as the players become exposed to top-level opponents.

"It's a really good chance for him, a big opportunity to play for one of the best teams in Europe. It's also good for the UAE to have young players playing abroad with these opportunities," Hickersberger told Sport360.

According to reports in England and Australia, English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers saw a bid of around $9 million for Australian defender Rhys William rejected by second-tier Middlesbrough while Luke Wilkshire extended his contract at Dinamo Moscow until June 2014.