Rumour has it that European giants AC Milan are considering buying their sensational attacking midfielder Ricardo lzecson dos Santos better known as ‘Kaka’, back from Real Madrid this winter. City rivals Internazionale FC too are in the race to avail the services of the Brazilian. With Milan quite seemingly keen on adding an extra dimension to its ordinary-looking midfield, Inter will have its own agenda in seeking his services.
Kaka has performed at a level far lower than the heady levels of expectations of both club and fans ever since his move to the Santiago Bernabeu at the beginning of the last season. The injury-prone season that it was for him, did not produce results matching his mammoth 65 Million Euros move from the Rossoneri. Speculation was rife that Galliani had been aware of possible fitness issues with his number 22 and pushed through the deal nevertheless.
Kaka has so far been only a shadow of his own self and any prolonged absence from the first team squad is only going to make matters worse. Meanwhile, the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Real along with a number of new faces that the Portuguese believes would suit his style of play, threatens Kaka’s survival in the club. The purchases of Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira have already choked the Real midfield blue enough for anyone to reserve a permanent place.
What actually went wrong in Madrid?
Kaka was the dream-buy in 2009 of then coach Manuel Pellegrini who had plans to play him in a trequartista alongside Madrid’s already strong midfield made up of the Dutch threefold – Sneijder, Robben and van Der Vaart. However, the ambitions of the club president Fiorentino Perez prevailed and he went on to snatch three more stars in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso. Perez later explained the giant spending exercise was borne out of his desperation to break the dominance of arch rivals FC Barcelona in Spain’s domestic circuit. These moves certainly made the Madrid squad look the real deal on paper but it hastened the departure of the Golden Dutch generation.
Amongst the newly bought players, Cristiano Ronaldo was the most high-profile deal and the onus lay on Pellegrini to implement a game that would allow him to close enough space up front with another fresh forward Gonzalo Higuain. With the squad at his disposal, Pellegrini had no other option but to go with the two-layer midfield since Xabi Alonso was the only top-ranked holding midfielder the squad could boast of – this was a role Sneijder had earlier carried out seamlessly from the centre.
A recurrent scene for Kaka in Madrid
Kaka was shackled from exhibiting his style of play that mainly required two physically tough midfielders holding fort on either side of the midfield – for which he had Gattuso and Seedorf during his days at Milan. The only other option the coach had was to allow Kaka to play a little closer to the attacking line but that was akin to compromising Ronaldo’s scoring aspirations by requiring the Portuguese to play as a traditional winger. Aggravated injuries meant Kaka could only find the net a total of 8 times in 25 league appearances for Los Blancos.
A Poor World Cup
Brazil were rated one of the favourites to lift the trophy at South Africa earlier this year, but their much-maligned style of play coupled with the exclusion of Ronaldinho and Pato did take its toll. Kaka started all the games as the key playmaker and supplier-in-chief to the two forwards Luis Fabiano and Robinho. The 4-3-3 design that was adopted suited Kaka’s style of play but the three chosen midfielders – Felipe Melo, Elano and Gilberto Silva were all holding midfielders and thus the supply of short passes that was so crucial given Kaka’s advanced position, did not occur the way it should have. What resulted was a disjointed midfield that lacked substance and attacking intent, with Kaka remaining isolated.
Kaka is expected to be rested for two more months before being fully match-fit to represent Real Madrid at the highest level. By then, the league would have definitely taken a certain shape, if not a conclusive one. The first round of group matches in the Champions League too would have been done with and the managers are usually expected to have settled on their first choice team.
On his return, Kaka may well expect to be on the bench. While that is something not befitting his stature as a player, Jose Mourinho is not one to get carried away by star-power.
Milan already has enough reasons to worry about especially after the way their midfield has performed so far. Kaka’s arrival may allow Allegri to reintroduce Ancelotti’s famous Christmas tree formation. Milan’s unfriendly neighbours Inter Milan too seem to have an interest in strengthening the attacking midfielder position. At present, the role falls to Sneijder, but the Dutchman being a brilliant dribbler of the ball, would love to hold a deeper position than his current one. There is a catch; Kaka’s emergence as the fourth member in the trequartista in the present Inter setup could unsettle the harmony Eto’o and Milito have nurtured over one highly triumphant season. Hiring Kaka’s services could see the left-footed Goran Pandev starting more number of games for Inter should Benitez decide in favour of his accuracy of passes.
The have-money-will-spend approach of Manchester City may lure them too into the race to purchase Kaka. The unending ambitions of the owners of the club have seen them buy big names over the last two years but Roberto Mancini is yet to settle upon a winning combination. A place in an incoherent side therefore would not exactly match Kaka’s needs as presently he is still to rediscover his touch.
A move to America !
Major League Soccer (MLS) have lately sought the bigger names in Europe with the aim of taking the stature of their league to another level. So far, all they have been able to cash in is players who are rated way past their prime and are not considered serious candidates at surviving another season in Europe. This time around though, the big guns in the MLS may look to change that trend by coming up with a massive bid for Kaka. His troubles in Spain are no secret and perhaps the Americans may find this the right time to persuade Kaka to reach to an agreement over a move.
Home Sweet Home
One may like to end things where they had begun. A move back to Sau Paulo therefore – the club where it all begun – may be a plausible move for the charismatic Brazilian. Kaka spent a formative eleven years of his career with the Tricolor Paulista and he may want to retire a Morumbi. The current champions Flamengo too may show their interest should Kaka show any interest in a move to the motherland. Another reason they may consider a massive investment is that they have lost Adriano to AS Roma and are in a desperate need for someone who can lift the team’s game with his inspiring presence.
Prolonging his stay at Madrid is in no way going to help Kaka’s cause. The time has come to make a decision. This may prove to be one of the most crucial decisions in shaping what remains of his future as a footballer. The last time he made a move was at his club’s will; this time round he has to do it for himself.
It is safe to assume the whole footballing world would love to see a player of Kaka’s calibre and character keep playing top flight football for as long as he can. As one of the true gentlemen left in the sport, it will be up to the Brazilian to prove that nice guys don’t necessarily finish last.
– Parth Pandya