by Jamie Whitehead
Twitter. It’s either your best friend or your worst enemy. Is it the best place to go for breaking transfer rumours, thanks to all the supposed ‘agents’ who hide behind names such as @agent_itk, or is it just another rumour mill overtaking the club forum as the weapon of choice?
At about ten past four on Sunday afternoon, shortly after Premier League champions Manchester City kicked off their defence of their title with a 3-2 win over newly promoted Southampton, the Twitterverse went into meltdown. To a level even impressive for them. Were they talking about Aguero’s first half injury, or the fact that City forward Mario Balotelli had once again been benched by City Manager Roberto Mancini?
No, because at ten past four on Sunday 19th of August 2012 trending worldwide on Twitter were the words ‘Kaka to United’
As far as I could see, the aforementioned @agent_itk (and at this point I should point out, I do not own this account or know the person responsible for it, just to keep the Conspiracy Theorists quiet) started the rumour by saying “I have news of a top secret transfer which I will reveal once I get 1,000 retweets. I was right about van Persie” A shameless, and quite excellent method of self promotion it must be said. Needless to say, he got his 1,000 retweets and suddenly we had a rumour going around that Brazilian World Cup winner and former World Player of the Year, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite – or Kaka to you and I – was on his way to Manchester United.
The deal, apparently, had been kept a secret in a bid to avoid other clubs coming in and hijacking it. A quick search on Google News for Kaka didn’t reveal any further information. So at this point, the rumour could be passed off as a load of kak(a). But, as our ITK friend claims to have clients based across the north west of England, for me it had gathered too much pace to not at least have some (broken) legs to it.
However, if this is just another rumour about one of the game’s biggest stars coming to the Premier League, whoever started it has certainly done their research. As Kaka to Manchester United could be the most perfect signing in Premier League history.
Some signings just ‘work’ There have been an uncountable number of fantastic signings throughout football’s history. But occasionally you get a transfer which is a perfect match for both club and player. Think Henry to Arsenal, Shearer to Newcastle, Zola to Chelsea and Gascoigne to Tottenham Hotspur. All the pieces just seem to fit. Manchester United’s potential signing of Kaka falls into this category.
By Monday morning, the rumour had gathered enough pace for it to make the newspapers, with it being reported that Real Madrid Manager Jose Mourniho had informed the player that he may be surplus to requirements this season, and with the potential arrival of Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric at the Bernebau, and Madrid’s already dazzling midfield of Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso, Angel di Maria and Lassana Diarra, it’s not hard to see Mourinho’s viewpoint. Kaka, who has won the World Cup, Champions League, Serie A, La Liga and the World Club Cup remained an unused substitute during Madrid’s season opener at home to Valencia. A game which Los Blancos will surely have been disappointed not to pick up all three points in, especially following title rivals Barcelona’s 5-1 demolition of Real Soceadad.
So what next for Brazil’s forgotten man?
At thirty, Kaka still has potentially a few decent seasons left in him. There was talk earlier in the summer of a return to Milan, where the man is adored and Serie A’s slower pace could potentially suit a player who’s fitness levels aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be. Galatasary have thrown their hat in the ring, and have been honest in their assumption that whereas they could afford his wages, a player of Kaka’s stature may not find Turkey’s Supa Liga an appealing career move. LA Galaxy have declared an interest following David Beckham’s announcement he may not renew his contract there when it expires in December. And with Madrid’s announcement that he could be available, it can’t be that long before the likes of Anzhi and Zenit start sniffing around. This could be appealing as Russia has become a second home for many Brazilians struggling to make an impact domestically. And with Brazil’s economy in an exceptionally healthy state at present, a return home could not be ruled out, following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Robinho and Ronaldinho.
But taking all that into consideration, none of the above options make as much sense as a move to Old Trafford.
Under Ferguson, United have perfected the art of blending youth and experience. So much so that for a few years they had an ideal combination of the two in Wayne Rooney. For as long as anyone can remember, United’s midfield has been built around a cornerstone of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Should Ferguson still be at the Old Trafford helm in twelve moths time (and there is no reason to suggest he shouldn’t) he does need to seriously consider who will step into the gaping hole left by Giggs, with the same decision regarding Scholes probably happening around the same time.
To play for Manchester United, you need to be a winner. And Kaka has won it all. The main argument coming against Ferguson adding Kaka to the Old Trafford armoury is the Brazilian’s terrible injury record. Terrible injury records is something Manchester United manage well. How much of the 94/95 season did Ryan Giggs miss due to injury? And at 39, nine years Kaka’s senior, Giggs still starts against the likes of Liverpool.
Ferguson also isn’t afraid to drop the big names. And few names come with as much weight as Kaka. In recent times you can look at the treatment of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen (another player with a horrific injury record). Berbatov, once one of Europe’s deadliest strikers, now plays nothing more than a bit part at Old Trafford, not even making the bench for the 2011 European Cup defeat to Barcelona.
And this is where the transfer works. Both sides can play to one another’s strengths. Kaka will not have the fitness levels to complete an entire Premier League season including domestic cup and European demands. But United, with Scholes, Giggs, Nani, Anderson and Kawaga, won’t need him to.
There is an argument that last season, City didn’t win the league. United lost it. A case in point backed up following United throwing away a two goal lead in the final minutes to draw 4-4 with Everton. Had United had Kaka on the bench, who is a great attacking player with a calming, defensive influence on the pitch, this may not have happened.
Look back to the European Cup semi final of 2007. United beat Milan 3-2 at Old Trafford in the first leg, but were annihilated at the San Siro 3-0 in the second leg (with Milan also missing Paulo Maldini for this game) Who was at the forefront of this? Ricardo Kaka. The brave header Kaka took in front of the Stretford End to gently nod the ball past Rio Ferdinand to put Milan 2-1 up will live long in the memory.
The player that can go on the long, mazy run beating three defenders and putting the ball in the top left hand corner? That’s Kaka. The man who can come on with twenty minutes to go and protect a slender 1-0 lead away at a title rival? That’s Kaka. The man you can rely on to take the fifth penalty in the European Cup final and keep a cool head? Yes, Ricardo Kaka.
If, as the papers are saying, this is a season long loan deal to get him back to fitness before a triumphant return to the Bernabeau, this could be a great bit of business for both the English and Spanish giants.
But, if United add an Option to Buy clause in the contract. This could be the greatest signing Ferguson ever made. And there have been a few.
What do you think of Kaka’s potential Old Trafford? Let us know in the comments below.
Jamie Whitehead is one half of the list based podcast 3for3, which can be downloaded from Mixcloud and iTunes and is a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service. He is ridiculously excited at the thought of Kaka playing in the Premier League.