What a difference four years make. In the summer of 2009, Kaka was moving from AC Milan to Real Madrid for €68.5 million with his reputation as one of the world’s best affirmed after being recognised by FIFA just two years earlier.
Now, in 2013, the football world has seemingly moved on from the Brazilian playmaker with his return to Milan a mere afterthought as Madrid break the bank for the latest wave of Galacticos.
Quite a significant way below all the furore created by the €100 million Madrid have lavished on Gareth Bale is the exit of Kaka on a free transfer. The clearest indication of how far Kaka’s stock has fallen in the four years since Milan’s chief executive Adriano Galliani refused to allow the £70 million pass the Rossoneri and duly cashed in on his talents.
2009 was in the same summer that Carlo Ancelotti, the manager who produced imperious form from Kaka in the mid-00s, also departed Milan and now he has turned up in Madrid and ruthlessly disposed of his former star is further indication of how far his genius has declined.
The midfielder will cut his wages in more than half to rejoin Milan on a two year deal that will see him earn €4 million per season, a huge drop from the €10 million he earned in the Spanish capital. Though it appears likely that finances will be secondary to Kaka’s burning desire to play after being marginalised in Madrid to the extent he started just 40 times since Jose Mourinho succeeded Manuel Pellegrini in 2010.
He has not played a minute under Ancelotti in Madrid’s opening three games and he has become a willing sacrifice as Florentino Perez aims to balance a wage bill swelled by the summer arrivals of Bale, Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Daniel Carvajal.
Kaka played just 964 minutes of football under Mourinho last season and remained on the pitch for the full 90 minutes on just one occasion as opportunities dried up for both club and country, Luiz Felipe Scolari omitting him from Brazil’s squad for the Confederations Cup over the summer. With the World Cup in his native country looming, Kaka has desperately jumped back to Italy in a bid to play his way back into the Selecao squad.
It is a new look Milan he will return to. Gone is the old guard of Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini whom he spearheaded alongside Filippo Inzaghi and instead he will link-up with the new generation of Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawry and Ricardo Montolivo.
Kaka will inherit the attacking midfield slot vacated by Kevin Prince-Boateng’s surprise departure to Schalke and is likely to share playmaking duties with Montolivo as Milan, who have undergone an elongated transition under Massimiliano Allegri, aim to return to the top of Serie A.
The Brazilian midfielder scored 9 goals and assisted 8 more in a decent first year in Spain but injuries curtailed his progress and forced him to be increasingly isolated under the eye of Mourinho.
It is likely that a troublesome left-knee would have curtailed some of the dynamic pace that was so effective in Ancelotti’s Milan but he will surely still possess the wonderful technique, divine balance, vision and guile that devastated most of Europe as he drove the Rossoneri to the Champions League finals of 2005 and 2007.
Despite the 31 year old’s struggles for form, those at Milan will need little convincing about the quality of deal that Galliani has pulled off and few will need reminding of the worth he is to the club after scoring 95 times and registering 46 assists in five years at the San Sio. In his first year at Milan, after arriving for €8.5 million from Gremio, a fee which Silvio Berlusconi compared to “peanuts”, Kaka hit 14 goals on the way to winning the Serie A title.
Allegri, Galliani and Berlusconi will be hoping for a similar impact this time around and with Nigel De Jong and Antonio Nocerino forming a solid midfield base for Kaka to freely support the potent forward line of Balotelli and El Shaarawry, it could turn out to be one of the most inspired dealings of the summer.
While Boateng couldn’t quite adapt to Allegri’s system despite a largely successful three years in Milan, Galliani has pulled off a major coup in bringing back, for free, the poster boy of their brilliant side of 6 years ago, whom they sold for €68 million. Should he rediscover a fraction of the form that saw him named Balon D’Or winner just 6 years ago, the Rossoneri will reap a superb piece of business.
The Brazil international told reporters after he completed his deal that “I’m happy and we have a great team. Last night I watched my team again. The San Siro? I just can’t wait”. Neither can the eyes of European football as they wait to see if Kaka can return to something near his terrific best.
“I’m going home” Kaka said, referring to Milan and possibly, back to Brazil.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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