The prodigal son returns: Kaka goes back to AC Milan.
by rick olivares
When Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, or Kaka for short, rejected a bid by Manchester City (that amounted to weekly wages of £500,000 a week), to stay with AC Milan, he famously told the Milan faithful, “At the moment, I do not want to change anything.”
One year later, he was on his way to the Santiago de Bernabeu to join Real Madrid. In the new era of Galacticos that Fiorentino Perez put together at Madrid, Kaka was slated to be a star among the stars. Better Madrid than City, right?
That was the last year of Raul with Madrid as Perez brought in Cristiano Ronaldo (from Manchester United), Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso (from Liverpool), Marcelo Vieira (from Fluminense), and Karim Benzema (from Lyon).
Kaka lined up at the top of the diamond formation of Manuel Pellegrini (with Lassara Diarra to his right and Rafael Van der Vaart to his left and Alonso behind him) as they fed twin strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Ronaldo.
Prior to coming over, Kaka led Milan with 16 goals the previous year as the Rossoneri finished third in the Serie A behind rival Internazionale and Juventus.
With Higuain and Ronaldo up front, the Brazilian wasn’t expected to score a bunch of goals. And he didn’t finishing with eight in Serie A while adding one in UCL play. It wasn’t an easy transition to being the central playmaker for Madrid as Kaka finished with six assists in the league; four behind team leader Guti.
In Los Merengues’ total of 48 matches that season, it was only goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas who played in every one of them. Kaka played in 33 and started in 29 matches.
The following year when Jose Mourinho came over, Kaka lost favor as Mesut Ozil was brought in after a superb showing in the World Cup.
There’s a football myth that players brought in after a strong showing in the World Cup or Champions League are liable to under perform. Soccernomics dictate that a footballer’s value should be viewed at not for one competition but their career as a whole. Chances are, a footballer played one great tournament and that’s it. The world is littered with the carcasses of players who flopped big time after the game of their lives. There’s Denilson, El Hadji Diouf, Florin Raducioiu, Kleberson, Marcus Allback, Salif Diao, and Theodoris Zagorakis to name a few to back that up.
That is not to say the same about Kaka for whom it has been the reverse. The Brazilian performs well in club football but not for the Selecao.
Now Kaka is back with the Rossoneri and he wants to prove Mourinho, the doubters, and Thomas Wolfe wrong that he, can go home again. And do well.
His move back to Milan though is viewed as his audition for Luis Felipe Scolari’s squad for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Ironically, Carl Ancelotti, his coach during his best years in Milan, is now Real Madrid boss. But there’s the infatuation with Gareth Bale whose arrival led to the Brazilian and Ozil’s departure (for Arsenal).
They leave behind a La Liga title and a couple of Copa del Rey and Supercopa pieces of silverware.
So the prodigal son is back in Milan. Now the jury is out if Kaka will have a better return tour at the San Siro than another favored son who left for another club during his heyday, Andriy Shevchenko.