Kaka isn’t going anywhere

Kaka has put an end to all speculation by announcing that he intends to stay with AC Milan.-PICS: AP

Now there are rumours that Real Madrid might like to buy Kaka but if he sticks to his guns and his attachment to Milan is real, then Real would fail to get him, too, writes Brian Glanville.

When Kaka suddenly announced that he had no intention of leaving Milan for Manchester City, he surely struck a blow for decency, morality and common sense. He could, as we know, have earned the ludicrous figure of £500,000 a week, and Milan could have pocketed upwards of £100 million for him. There is no limit, it seems, to the immense riches of Abu Dhabi. They have, by way of some slight consolation for City, lured Craig Bellamy, the electric little Welsh intern ational striker, from West Ham United, for a reported £14 million. Inducing him, in the process, to walk out on his club, which had always treated him well, on the day before they were due to meet Fulham in a vital derby.

Alas, it did him no harm. His manager, the hugely likeable Gianfranco Zola, not only spoke about him cordially, but even initially issued a wholly bogus statement saying that Bellamy had been sent home from training because he would not be in condition to play. Even without him, Hammers comfortably beat Fulham 3-1, and the money will no doubt go to alleviate in some small measure the huge financial losses suffered by their owner, the Icelandic plutocrat, Gudmundsson.

The joy expressed by Milan’s ineffable owner, and President of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, rang thoroughly false. There seems little doubt that Milan, because of Berlusconi and his two children, directors of his holding company Finninvest, were only too keen to grab all that money, to pay off Milan’s debts. The sight of Berlusconi giving Kaka a hug was one to induce a mild form of nausea.

Now there are rumours that Real Madrid might like to buy Kaka, though they have offered somewhat less — however hyperbolic the figure — than did Manchester City. Real have just parted company with their bombastic President Calderon, accused of illicitly boosting his Presidential votes, and would at least be a far more appropriate setting for Kaka and his multiple talents than City. True, this has not been a distinguished season for Real, who have sacked their volatile German manager, Bernd Schuster, and recently lost their classic derby to Barcelona, but at least their European reputation and history are immense, with an array of European Cup successes. If, however, Kaka sticks to his guns and his attachment to Milan is real, which I hope and think it is, then Real would fail to get him, too.

Will Robinho want to stay? But if he goes, who would be prepared to pay the excessive £32 million plus which City paid Real Madrid for him? The truth is that, though Bellamy won’t by any means be the limit of their spending (there is imminent prospect of Hamburg’s Dutchman De Jong arriving — and by the time you read this he probably will have) this is no more than a mediocre team.

It was utterly humiliated in the FA Cup at home by Nottingham Forest of what used to be called the Third Division, 3-0, though admittedly Robinho missed that one. As did the highly effective if somewhat intransigent Irish attacker, Stephen Ireland, though he was suspended, rather than injured. But on the weekend when all the talk was of Kaka leaving Milan, City could only just squeeze through 1-0 at home to Wigan, and this, largely because Wigan were refused a manifest penalty when their midfielder, Cattermole was tripped; while Wigan’s usually prolific Egyptian centre-forward, Zaki, missed a point blank heading chance.

A banner during a match shows how much Kaka is loved by the AC Milan supporters.-

Meanwhile, what of Chelsea and Abramovich? Has he turned the light of his countenance away from them? Is it true that he would be prepared to sell the club for the bagatelle of £800 million? Chelsea declare that they intend to sue the ‘Sunday Times’, my own paper, for alleged defamation, because they published a news item asserting that Chelsea had sent emissaries to the Middle East, sounding out the prospects of a sale both in the Gulf States and in Saudi Arabia, so far without success. That doesn’t seem defamatory to me.

Chelsea’s insistence is that wrong inferences were deduced from a visit made by their officials for a meeting with one of their sponsors, Etihad Airways.

Yet there are certain straws in the wind. The fact that Abramovich didn’t bother to attend, which perhaps was just as well, Chelsea’s 3-0 debacle at Old Trafford. That Big Phil Scolari his new manager seldom sees him. That he’s rumoured to have lost as much as £3 billion in the Russian credit crisis. This would still leave him with billions more, but would hardly encourage him to splash out on the likes of Kaka.

Nor has Chelsea’s form this year been of much comfort to him. Apart from the rout at Old Trafford, they had the humiliation of being held to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge, by humble Southend United. And though they won the replay at Southend 4-1, they gave away yet another headed goal at a set piece, owed much to a superb save by their Czech goalkeeper, Peter Cech, and equalised only because, on a cross, Southend’s ’keeper impulsively ran into his own centre-back.

Did Abramovich watch their subsequent dull display at home to Stoke? One report had it that he walked out a quarter of an hour from the end when Chelsea were still 1-0 behind, another that he wasn’t there at all. Chelsea had fallen behind to a goal by big Rory Delap, a one-paced player famous for his throw-ins, who was suddenly made, by a sloppy Chelsea defence, to look like a cross between Diego Maradona and George Best. Chelsea’s goals came as late as the 89th minute and injury time. Hard to understand why certain BBC TV pundits acclaimed this as a turning of the corner. Big Phil Scolari still doesn’t really convince, tactically (he keeps telling us he’s using man to man marking, then man to man marking plus zonal marking, meaning what?). While if morale collapsed in Manchester, who is to blame but the manager; even if his players all speak up for him?

Another story has it that President Putin has asked Abramovich not to buy players at a time when the Russian economy is in trouble. Goodness knows whom to believe.