The recent revelation by Milan prodigy Ricardo Kaka could have far more serious repercussions than anyone currently anticipates. But could the introduction of an in-form Ronaldinho into the Rossoneri fray really signal the end of Kaka’s adventures in Serie A?
Last Friday, the darling of the San Siro since 2003 announced at a press conference something that Coach Carlo Ancelotti would have feared ever since being told that the club were signing Ronaldinho. Having finally found a formula for a winning team after a difficult start to the campaign, Ancelotti’s prized possession Kaka chose to go public with his personal disappointments at the role he has been given.
“I play too far from the strikers, and too close to the midfielders. This isn’t what I like. Ronaldinho is doing well, but we work best when Seedorf and I are behind one striker… Ronaldinho limits me a little.” It is easy to see why he supports his partnership with Clarence Seedorf so strongly – much of the success they have had has been whilst using this formation. One of the defining matches of Kaka’s time at the San Siro was when they overcame Manchester United in the 2007 Champions League semi-final second-leg, by three goals to nil. It is no coincidence that in this match, the two played together behind one front-man, Filippo Inzaghi, and that both also scored.
It was also no surprise that the Diavolo side that disappointed so much last season, had problems throughout the 2007/08 season with keeping both Kaka and Seedorf fit for long periods of time. Without even one of these players in the line-up, it can be hard to recreate the fluid inter-passing that characterises their careers together at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium. The front man has often changed – Filippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino, Ronaldo, Andriy Shevchenko, Marco Borriello and Alexandre Pato have all taken their place in the line-up as a sole striker in Carletto’s 4-3-2-1 formation – but the constant that had remained the same had been the two trequartiste.
The reasoning behind bringing in Ronaldinho was therefore due to the problem encountered last season – that is, what to do when Kaka or Seedorf are unavailable. On the face of it, bringing in a former World Player of the Year for a cut-price deal was never going to be a bad move, it just depended how much it cost Silvio Berlusconi. Assuming that he returned to at least a shade of his former self, the player would fit into the squad and make a reasonable contribution. However, the result was that the eccentric Brazilian has struck nine goals in all competitions, seven in Serie A, and two more than his concerned fellow countryman. At the moment, he is the first name on the teamsheet.
Adriano Galliani, as the man who instigated the move, could become a victim of his own success. The success of one Brazilian has resulted in the other being unhappy playing second fiddle. Potentially the two cannot, or prefer not to play together and as soon as that point is reached – and we do not know if it already has – then the only options are to wait for a player go out of form, change a winning tactic, or choose the player you need the most and ditch the other.
Kaka is right of course that he is having to participate more in the centre of the pitch than he would normally have to, but Ancelotti has told his now long-serving forward, also publicly, that he is needed in other ways at this stage of the season.
“I know his thoughts… Kaka still holds the key for Milan, like the other champions… Probably these reflections of his are brought about due to how many goals he has scored this season, but at the moment we need a different Kaka than the one that scores the goals.”
The question of course that then arises is, if this is the case in May, will a season of being restrained from his natural game make Ricky think about leaving the Milan family? The club would not of course want to lose an icon, someone who has been loyal throughout his career in Italy, and of course extremely effective. However, based on that very same loyalty and respect between the two, a move could be granted if he requested it, and no solution – other than potentially sell Ronaldinho – could be found.
Destinations? Yes we are jumping the gun somewhat if we mention possible clubs that Kaka may be willing to go to, and there will surely be no shortage of adequate offers. Manchester City and Chelsea will no doubt cough up any figure that the Milanese ask of them, but out of loyalty to the player, they will only sell, assuming an adequate offer is made, to a team that Kaka has long had a desire to play for – Real Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti faces a real dilemma in the coming months- change tactics, personnel, or somehow, ideally, help them play happily together. If Carletto can work himself out of an impossible situation, then he will have shown yet another string on his management bow, but if he cannot, it may be arrivaderci Milan, hola Madrid for one of the Rossoneri legends.