Monday 19 March 2018

Ronaldinho rift at heart of Milan deal

A.C. Milan's Brazilian forward Ronaldinho and A.C. Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace, Getty Images
A.C. Milan's Brazilian forward Ronaldinho and A.C. Milan's Brazilian midfielder Kaka. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace, Getty Images

Frank Dunne

The €100m which Manchester City have offered for AC Milan's Kaka would be tempting for any club, even one whose owner, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has a personal fortune of $9.4bn. But Milan's change of heart about a player previously described by Berlusconi as "not for sale at any price" is not solely about money.

A number of footballing reasons are being put forward as to why the club would be prepared to sell the 26-year-old, the most probable of which is that Kaka and fellow Brazilian, Ronaldinho, signed last summer from Barcelona, have not gelled as twin three-quarter players behind the striker in coach Carlo Ancelotti's favoured 4-3-2-1 formation.

The mild-mannered and uncontroversial Kaka has gone public several times this season about his dissatisfaction with his duties since Ronaldinho arrived.

The subtext of Kaka's complaints is that he is expected to do too much donkey work to cover for the unfit Ronaldinho and consequently rarely finds himself in goal-scoring positions. Ancelotti will not abandon his system, so one of the players will probably have to be sacrificed and, although Ronaldinho is two years older than Kaka, it is unlikely to be the new signing who makes way.

Yoann Gourcuff's form this year for Bordeaux has begun to justify his billing as the new Zinedine Zidane and he could be a fitting heir to Kaka in the Milan side.

When Ancelotti first saw Gourcuff in training he described him as the most naturally talented player he had seen since the arrival of Kaka. However, the player's destiny is no longer in Milan's hands. When the club loaned him to Bordeaux -- after he had struggled to hold down a first team place last season -- the deal gave the French club the option to buy Gourcuff at the end of the 2008-09 season for €15m.

It seems inconceivable that they won't take up the option. If the coach had to move any player forward it would be Clarence Seedorf, who had played as a trequartista to great effect before Ronaldhino's arrival.

But after two goals against Roma on Sunday, 19-year-old Alexandre Pato is back in the spotlight but his form over the last two seasons has been fitful. His potential is enormous but it is unlikely that Ancelotti would build a team around him, rather than Kaka, just yet.

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