Kaka’s AC Milan return is doomed to fail
On the final day of the transfer window, Adriano Galliani presented Ricardo Kaka to the Rossoneri fans. The prodigal son was returning to the San Siro. But what kind of impact can AC Milan fans really expect from their returning idol?
After an injury-plagued four-year stint at Real Madrid, when Kaka only managed 85 appearances for Los Blancos, Galliani proudly unveiled the Brazilian to the Rossoneri tifosi. Bringing Kaka back is certainly a gamble, and that mostly being due to his patchy fitness record.
Since before leaving the Rossoneri for Real Madrid back in 2009, Kaka had struggled with persistent groin issues that saw him more as a regular of the infirmary than on the pitch. After four years of being saddled with his enormous wages, Real Madrid willingly offloaded the Brazilian for free to rejoin AC Milan. Furthermore, the Brazilian took a consequent pay-cut from his ten-million-euro-a-year salary in order to seal his return to the peninsula. Indeed repatriating a player he had sold for €70 million for free all sounded like another great coup from Galliani.
Given the current state of this AC Milan team, Kaka certainly adds something. The Rossoneri midfield has been crying for creativity and a touch of class. Kaka represents just that. In the last couple season it was Kevin Prince Boateng who operated as a trequartista (playmaker), a role that was forced on the Ghanaian. Kaka naturally slots in that position however, and that represents an obvious upgrade. Moreover, Kaka also brings his experience to a side that has been in need of some leadership.
But the real question is the following: how much of a contribution can AC Milan expect from Kaka? More pertinently, how many games can AC Milan expect from Kaka? Indeed the Brazilian’s fitness is a big issue. He’s barely been fit during his time at Real Madrid. And on the rare occasions when he has been, he has found it difficult to find regular playing time.
The answer is that as much as Kaka represents an upgrade to AC Milan on paper, he cannot be considered a serious recruit. He is nothing more than a big name to appease the fans, a PR stunt pulled by Galliani to mask a disastrous summer transfer campaign.
Kaka made his debut when the Rossoneri traveled to Torino on Sunday. The match ended 2-2, with the Rossoneri only snatching the draw in the last five minutes courtesy of a Mario Balotelli penalty. It was not a great debut from Kaka either, who was taken off at the 70th minute.
The Brazilian struggled to find his feet in the midfield. He was often dropping very deep to pick up the ball. In fact, Kaka had very little influence in the final third of the pitch, where he only managed 13 of the 46 passes he made all game. Moreover, only one of the 13 passes Kaka made penetrated the Torino penalty area.
Kaka’s lack of influence was further highlighted by the fact that he failed to really connect with Mario Balotelli. The two players only exchanged 11 passes, Kaka sending six passes to the Italian and receiving five from him. In fact, the most passes Kaka exchanged were with Sulley Muntari and Nigel De Jong. The statistics all made for more grim reading when noticing that only two of his exchanges with Balotelli were towards the penalty area.
What the statistics confirmed is that Kaka does not have the midfield support he would require to succeed. Today’s AC Milan midfield is nothing like the one Kaka left four years ago. In effect only Riccardo Montolivo is really capable to carry the ball forward, hold it when needed or run off him. Kaka, as the trequartista and in Massimiliano Allegri’s set up, has to cover huge spaces to stitch the midfield and attack together, which he simply no longer has the athleticism or dynamism to do.
The problem with Kaka is that his chronic injuries have robbed him of his most potent weapon: his acceleration. Before his technical ability, Kaka was first and foremost and superb athlete that relied on his physical ability to dominate games. His injuries have however hamstrung him over the years, making Galliani’s gamble all the more unlikely to come off. It is all quite confusing indeed, for Galliani to knowingly sell a broken toy – referring to Kaka’s persistent groin issue – to Real Madrid only to take it back later after four more years of wear-and-tear.
The fact is that things seem to have already gone pear-shaped as media report that the Brazilian could be sidelined for a month due to injury. Should those reports be confirmed, it spells the start of a very long season of regrets – albeit already late ones – for the Rossoneri.
Follow Ogo Sylla on Twitter at: @RossonerOgo_3