Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The "forgotten" star

The Futbolitis blog is a superb resource for those interested in a deeper analysis both of tactics and the politics of football, without many of the rumours and sensationalism associated with more traditional media. As the articles are written in Spanish, I thought I would share some of the highlights of the item that was published earlier today regarding one of Ramón Calderón's broken electoral promises when he became Real Madrid president: Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaká.

The authors argue that Kaká could be the signing that both Barcelona and Real Madrid should be looking at this summer. In Barcelona's case, they need a replacement for the recently departed Ronaldinho and they had their chance earlier in the transfer window. Milan don't have the money they once had to invest in renewing their ageing side; they did not qualify for the Champions League. Galliani, president of Milan, was interested in a swap with come of the Barcelona players, but the board was in the middle of getting rid of Rijkaard and replacing him with Guardiola and missed the boat.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, have been putting aside money for the on-off transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo. Kaká is arguably a much better technical fit, as he is and has always been a team player rather than a highly talented individual, but with the vision and skill to replace Guti as the main playmaker. Guti, in contrast, has never had the temperament to provide that vision week in, week out and is also five-and-a-half years older.

For a while last season, Real flirted with moving Gago up to Guti's position, which proved unsuccessful. The Argentine has been good at playing the ball forward to Guti and Sneijder, but he really is no Redondo, though perhaps, at his age, he should be given the benefit of the doubt, and more time to develop.

The figures for the transfer of Kaká are comparable to those being rumoured for Cristiano Ronaldo, possibly even larger. Chelsea are reportedly interested, but then, Chelsea seem to be interested in everybody. The main difference financially between Ronaldo and Kaká is that the Portuguese has been spending his holiday time signing sponsorship deal after sponsorship deal (did you really think he was going to LA for the club scene?). This means that from an image rights perspective, his transfer is much less amortisable that, say, David Beckham's was.

Making the money that Real Madrid made with David Beckham is not possible in these more media-savvy days, but Kaká's image is much more up for grabs. On the personal front, the Brazilian is a committed Christian and family man, a much less likely target for all those scandal-hungry paparazzi.

Will Calderón change course mid-stream and go for Kaká? It's a long shot, but it may be worth considering.

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