Premier League clubs bound to be in the mix for his signature, but where would suit him best?
The 30-year-old has never quite recaptured the sort of scintillating form that saw the current Spanish champions fork out the best part of £56m for him back in 2009 and saw him win the 2007 Ballon d’Or and Fifa World Player of the Year awards before they combined back in 2010. Having briefly filled the vacuum between Ronaldinho and Messrs Messi and Ronaldo as the best player in the world, he’s endured a rotten time with injuries and he’s not quite the same game-changing player he once was, robbed of that blistering acceleration that made him that rare type of attacker who seemed quicker with the ball than he was without it.
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho seemed open to the possibility of letting him go in the summer, telling AS: “If Kaka stays I would be happy and I am happy if he wants to go. In football it is normal that the players play where they want. He is a very good footballer and prepared to be at his maximum level. If he decides to stay, then perfect. If he goes, that’s perfect too but we are not going to give him away for free. Those that want him have to pay for him.”
Despite the side’s relatively poor start to life in La Liga this term, Kaka has featured just five times and made eight appearances across all competitions and he remains firmly behind the likes of Luka Modric, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira in the midfield pecking order, while he lacks the pace to dislodge one of Angel Di Maria or Karim Benzema as one part of the team’s three-pronged attack. He’s very much a square peg in a round hole; a relic to a bygone era where idealism took precedence over pragmatism at the club and despite Mourinho trying to shoe-horn him in the side more last term, his time at the club appears to be coming to end now.
Despite Manchester United being linked with a loan move before the season began, with Sir Alex Ferguson struggling to integrate and find a consistent formation to get the best out of the existing talent he has at his disposal, a move for the Brazilian looks unlikely, especially after Robin van Persie’s big-money move to Old Trafford.
He also famously came close to moving to Manchester City back in January of 2009, with then chief executive accusing AC Milan of ‘bottling’ the world-record £104m deal. Again, much like with Real Madrid, under Roberto Mancini, the club have moved on since then and while they could certainly do with an extra body to help both Samir Nasri and David Silva in the creative department, he may be seen as little more than an expensive and somewhat needless indulgence. Moves for Real Betis playmaker Benat and Malaga’s exceptional Isco look much more likely given that former Barcelona man Txiki Begiristain is now the club’s Director of Football.
Never one to be outdone in the indulgence stakes, though, Chelsea represent a viable alternative and while a permanent deal may be put on the back-burner for now, a loan switch until the end of the season could work well for both parties and give the midfielder ample time to try and prove himself, particularly with the added motivation of securing his place in new Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari’s plans for the 2014 World Cup on home soil also on the horizon.
Interim boss Rafa Benitez is unlikely to be handed any sort of transfer budget and player recruitment will likely fall to trusted Roman Abramovich lieutenant Michael Emenalo, with the Spaniard just having to make do with what he is given and do as he’s told until May – a relationship that many have struggled with during their spell in the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge, but for which the 52-year-old will gladly go along with as he seeks to rebuild his career.
With a move for one of Kaka’s closest friends, Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, reportedly in the pipeline and a January move imminent, particularly if they fail to arrest their eight-game run without a win in the league anytime soon, the west London outfit could provide the perfect platform for them both. The opportunity to pair Oscar alongside one of his childhood heroes could help bring back the attacking spring that the side had in their step earlier on in the campaign too.
Frank Lampard’s contract is up in the summer and he looks likely to depart for LA Galaxy, which leaves open a role in the side for an experienced player to step into, with neither Ramires or John Obi Mikel convincing consistently enough of late as part of a midfield two. They would be able to afford his hefty wages, plus any sort of loan fee that Mourinho would be after and he’d add some much-needed drive from the middle of the park. Most importantly, though, he’d bring with him his pedigree and star name, a quality above all else the club’s Russian owner would find attractive. On the face of it at least, he just feels like an Abramovich signing.
He may be entering the last few useful years of a largely unfulfilled career that promised so much but has delivered comparatively little when you look at how talented he was/is, but Kaka remains a very good player when given a run of games, as he was during the latter half of last season at Real Madrid. While a combination of finances and bad timing should see both Manchester clubs take a pass if he becomes available in January, Chelsea could do a lot worse than making a move for a player who still has a lot left to prove and plenty to offer.