“If he goes, I’m happy for him, and if he stays, I’ll be just as happy,” was José Mourinho’s less-than-effusive appraisal of his under-employed Brazilian superstar Kaká.
The midfielder was an unused substitute in Real Madrid’s opening Liga match against Valencia and was omitted entirely from the squad to face Barcelona in Thursday’s Spanish Supercup first leg tie. Last season, Kaká only played the full 90 minutes for Real on seven occasions and was often deployed from the bench, with Mesut Özil firmly installed in the playmaker role in the final third of the field, the area where Kaká prospered so gracefully at Milan.
But since arriving in Madrid, and despite decent goals- and assists-to-appearances ratios, the Brazilian has never really slotted into Mourinho’s system. At the start of preseason, the Portuguese coach told Kaká that he would likely feature even less this season. It has become quite clear that the Brazilian needs to move, but who can afford him in these times of economic woe, which have certainly affected transfer business in La Liga this summer? Maybe five clubs in Europe.
The biggest spender this summer has been Paris Saint-Germain, which has splashed out nearly 140 million euros on Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. The latter two, both signed from Milan for a combined sum of 63 million euros, presented Kaká with his best chance to escape his Bernabéu purgatory; Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani would love nothing more than to bring Milan’s favorite son back to the San Siro — but they can’t afford to.
The Brazilian commands wages of nine million euros a year and Real wants somewhere in the region of a 20-million-euro offer to allow him to leave. For a player over 30 with scarce appearances over the past two seasons, it is a huge sum, no matter how many shirts he would shift at any given club.
Who can afford him in these times of economic woe? Maybe five clubs
Not surprisingly, Florentino Pérez does not wish to let a rival club have Kaká on a loan, or for a derisory fee.
This is a big problem for Kaká, who knows he is not the player he was at Milan — a former Ballon d’Or and Fifa World Player of the Year winner, Champions League top scorer in 2006-07 and Serie A player of the year twice, among myriad other honors.
Would regular action see Kaká return to his best? In his fleeting appearances for Madrid he has shown that he still possesses the touch, vision and awareness that made him the world’s best player; another Real midfielder, Zinedine Zidane, now a member of the coaching staff, played successfully to the age of 34.
It will probably never be known, with the market as it is. Unless Real budges on its price or a loan deal with an option to buy can be arranged with Milan, Kaká will be just another spectator at the Bernabéu this season.
The Brazilian is not alone in his misery: both Nuri Sahin and Ricardo Carvalho have been told they are surplus to requirements as well. The Turkish midfielder is expected to be loaned to a Premier League club, while the veteran Portuguese clubber has been linked with a move to QPR, although Mourinho said he doubted the reports were accurate.
“In Sahin’s case we have offers on the table and the player is thinking them over, but we have had no official approach for Kaká, so his is a different situation,” Mourinho revealed. “He has been on the bench and didn’t play because I wasn’t able to put him on.” That was because of two substitutions that were forced by injury.