Champions League Prelude: The Return Of The King – Kaka’s Milan Homecoming


Kaka and Massimo Ambrosini - AC Milan v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

As Real Madrid prepare to travel to Milan for a crucial Champions League encounter, Goal.com’s Subhankar Mondal probes into what this game could mean for a player who switched between the clubs in the summer…..

Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away lived a soldier who had served his masters royally and without any question for several years. He had come from a distant land and had adopted this nation as his own and taken them to great heights and had led them to conquer the domestic arena as well as the continental stage. He was hugely respected and adored by the people and once he was recognised as the best soldier on the planet. It seemed that nothing could go wrong and that he would be with them until death.

Only, something did go wrong and he could not be with them until death. The kingdom he was so keen to defend suffered from myopic management and he was forced to leave. He was ‘sold’ by his masters to another kingdom for cold, hard cash and the people fell into depression. The kingdom couldn’t find anyone to replace him even with the money they earned because of his departure, and before long the cliched ‘moment of truth’ arrived when the soldier returned to his old abode attired in his new kingdom’s armour, apparently eager to destroy his old home to rescue his new.

Okay, the aforementioned crudely constructed plot is a failed story that this columnist has been trying to pitch to the editor of his local publication house for years but the ‘analogy’ between the fictional soldier and Real Madrid’s Kaka is fairly apparent. Or at least, can be construed.

Kaka featured for Milan for six years between 2003 and 2009 and was arguably their best player in the creative department. The Brazilian might not exactly have played the most instrumental role in leading the Rossoneri in what still remains their only Scudetto triumph in 2004, but the 27-year-old was certainly at the heart of a resilient Milan display in the 2004-2005 Champions League when they came within 45 minutes of conquering Europe and then again in 2007 when 10 goals and three assists in 14 starts in Europe’s blue ribbon competition saw the club lift their seventh European title. Kaka won the FIFA World Player award and the Ballon d’Or that year and things looked to be on the up.


Once Upon A Time Kaka Belonged To Milan….

But then the former Sao Paulo playmaker was struck with injuries and was obliterated by mediocre form. The not so radical drop in performance level for the rest of the Milan team who were nearing or surpassing the 30-year mark didn’t help and soon the club were caught in a financial mesh and were forced by circumstances to sell their most prized asset. They almost sold Kaka to a club from the wilderness named Manchester City and did eventually sell him to a club they say is the biggest in the world but are struggling to be the biggest in their city at the moment.

And spookily Milan and Real Madrid were drawn in the same group in the Champions League this season, thereby raising the prospect of Kaka returning to old club in the pristine white of Madrid and aiming to damage his former club’s chances. And under the current circumstances he has to be at his very best when Madrid travel to Milan in midweek as a defeat could wreck los Blancos’s European ambitions.

Goal.com’s Peter Staunton summed up Kaka’s time at Madrid so far when he remarked that the Brazilian “flattered to deceive” at the Santiago Bernabeu against Milan. In six league games that the World Cup winner has started he has scored twice and has given two assists; in the Champions League, he has scored once and provided one assist. His football hasn’t exactly been breathtaking and although it has looked great in parts especially in the opening games and at certain periods in some matches, the notion thatKaka has returned to his 2007 form after his scintillating display for Brazil in the summer’s Confederations Cup has yet to become concrete.

For Madrid to advance to the knockout stages of the European Cup, a win at the San Siro is almost imperative. A defeat could see them struggle for progression and that would be detrimental for a club who are aiming to resurrect themselves as the most glamorous in the world. And for Madrid to win in Milan, Kaka has to be at his best and pull the strings from the midfield to rip apart a gradually resurgent Milan backline.


…..Now Kaka Belongs To Real Madrid

But for Kaka to do that and bite the hand that once fed him would take something massive. Even after joining Madrid the Brazilian went on claiming that he did not want to leave Milan and that in his heart, he remains their supporter. Which is true and one can only sympathise with him, although it must also be accepted that his father flying all the way from Brazil to Italy to negotiate a deal with Manchester City in January did not exactly bear much resemblance to royalty.

But the point stays that Kaka is a Milan well-wisher and that if boos are generated every time he touches the ball at the San Siro in the return leg, it would be a disgrace.

Milan fans might not exactly see Kaka as the angel that they once thought he was, but much of their anger has been directed towards Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani.Kaka’s departure was in the wings even since Ramon Calderon pledged that he will import him to Madrid; also the player did bring money into the Rossoneri war chest by joining Madrid but that money couldn’t be pumped into the club’s transfer reinforcements, leaving coach Leonardo to work with a paralysed squad.

Whatever the outcome may be of the Madrid-Milan game, it is surely going to be an emotional match for a certain Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. Football, you see, is not always about the results.

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