Honda brilliant, but is he the best import the A-League has seen?

He's only been in the A-League a matter of months and has played just six games for his club, Melbourne Victory.

But already plenty – including Victory skipper Carl Valeri – are hailing Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda as the best foreigner to have played in the competition.

Other Victory teammates extol Honda's plethora of virtues: workrate, team-spirit, leadership and mentoring ability as well as his obvious technical and tactical gifts out on the pitch.

But at this early stage of proceedings isn't it just a bit too early to be handing out such titles?

Keisuke Honda is off to a flying start at Melbourne Victory.Credit:AAP

Victory have not yet won anything. Honda may get injured or ill or – unlikely as it seems – suffer a dip in form.

Perhaps the best way to appraise his debut is to say that he has shown the capacity to be up there, and perhaps topple, those with claims to being the best imports the local game has seen.

And there have been plenty who have made an enormous impression. Most on a fleeting basis, but a handfjul who have spent several seasons in the Australian game, enhancing its status and enriching the experience for their team's fans.

Several, in fact, have worn the same navy blue colours that Honda does.

Who could forget the huge impression made by the dynamic Brazilian Fred in Victory's first championship season?

The Energizer Bunny might have struggled to match the Brazilian's workrate as he provided the perfect link between Victory's parsimonious defence and its prolific striking duo of Danny Allsopp and Archie Thompson.

Fred (right) with Archie Thompson at the 2007 grand final.Credit:Sebastian Costanzo

His grand final display, when he created most of Archie Thompson's extraordinary five-goal haul in the rout of Adelaide will live long in the memory.

Fred never got to to play with Carlos Hernandez, and its fair to say that he if he might not have been that impressed with the Costa Rican's workrate he would surely have been a huge admirer of his technical ability.

The Tico international had a penchant for taking things easy, but his skill on the ball, ability to pick a pass and capacity to score long range bombs made him a fan favourite for all the right reasons – as well as the pundits choice as one of the best players in the league for several seasons.

There haven't been many French players in the A-League, but Victory has had a couple, with one of them, elegant defender Matthieu Delpierre, surely deserving a place when the debate about best import – at least in a defensive position –  takes place.

Most foreigners who catch the eye are attackers or midfielders: they are paid big money to make things happen.

But Victory spent wisely when it recruited the German-based Frenchman, whose calm presence, tactical awareness, skill on the ball and ability to not just defend but pop up at the other end to present a danger from set pieces made him a huge asset for the two seasons he was at Gosch's Paddock.

And, of course, no discussion about brilliant imports to have worn the navy blue of Victory would be complete without reference to the deadliest forward to have played in the A-League.

Besart Berisha established himself as a player of rare gifts in his early years in the competition with Brisbane Roar, when he was a key to their title-winning teams.

Deadly striker: Besart Berisha.Credit:AAP

But the German-raised Albanian took his game to new levels when he arrived at Victory. His intensity, work rate, hunger for goals and sheer combativeness made him an essential player for coach Kevin Muscat, who argued that even when Berisha wasn't on target he was still causing opposition teams concern with his appetite for competition and ability to create space for his teammates.

Of course, it's not just Victory which has had its fair share of top line imports. While it has had a series of excellent players, few, Honda aside, had big names before they came here.

Sydney has really pushed the boat out with high-profile foreigners, the sort of names that resonated far beyond this country long before they arrived in the A-League.

Sydney brought the A-League's first real marquee man, former Manchester United star Dwight Yorke, to town in that very first season.

Dwight Yorke was a standout for Sydney,Credit:AAP

Back then Sydney was marketing itself as ''Bling FC'' and Yorke, a larger than life character who was nicknamed ''All Night Dwight" certanly brought the attention of the wider media and the paparazzi to the fledgling A-League.

But he also delivered on the pitch. The former Champions League winner might have been in his mid 30s but he showed he still had what it takes, inspiring the Sky Blues to that first A-League title, even settting up the winning grand final goal.

But even Yorke was eclipsed probably by the brightest star that the competition has  attracted – Italian maestro Alessandro Del Piero.

The Azzurri World Cup winner was, in football terms, an old man when he was brought to this country in his late 30s.

But he was still able to dribble, dazzle and outshine his much younger opponents.

He brought genuine star quality to the league, Sydney attracted great sponsor and media interest with him in its midst and crowds lifted at grounds around the country as Australian fans flocked, certainly in his first season here, to see a genuine star of the world game in action.

Star quality: Alessandro Del Piero.Credit:AAP

The import who has, however, been the benchmark against whom all others have been judged has been the German Thomas Broich, the conductor at the heart of that orchestral movement that was the Brisbane Roar team coached by Ange Postecloglou.

A prodigiously talented player in his youth, Broich couldn't cope with or wasn't interested in the pressures of top-level football in the Bundesliga and effectively ''dropped out'' of the game at the highest levels.

Postecoglou persuaded him of the benefits of making the move to the much lower profile Australian league, where the hype, hoopla and expectation was nothing like that of Europe.

The coach made Broich the fulcrum around which the team he was fashioning balanced.

And Broich contributed for years. Playmaker, leader, mentor, creator, defender, goalscorer, talisman, soul and footballing conscience of what was, in the eyes of many, the best team the A-League has yet seen.

Thomas Broich has been highly productive.Credit:Vince Caligiuri

Honda may well be a better player than all of his Victory predecessors. He might, on ability, be up there with Yorke, Del Pierro and Broich.

But to rank on that high pedestal he has to do it for at least a season, not just a handful of games, and inspire Victory to new heights.

He has the capacity to do so. Let's give him the time before we start saddling him with the burden of expectation.

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