The news that Milan have allowed Man City to talk to Kaka after being offered a ludicrous sum (anywhere between £91m and £107m depending on who you believe) intrigues me. Milan are, after all, one of the most famous and historic names in world football, and Kaka is their talisman, a 26 year old blessed with both the talent to become the world’s best player, and the humility to not let that status overcome him.
There are plenty of dissenting voices in the Milan fanbase, supporters who are furious than their club have accepted a bid for their best player, feeling that this has confirmed Milan as ‘a selling club’. That moniker has always confused me, as surely every player, like any commodity in business, has their price. Once someone offers you more money than you believe your asset is really worth, it becomes prudent to sell.
And that is certainly the case here. Bearing in mind that top players move for around £30m in today’s market, City are attempting to put an enormous marker down and are willing to pay extraordinary amounts to do so. Milan can take the money, compensate themselves by the tune of £30-35m for their absence from this season’s Champions League, and still have enough left over to buy the bulk of a new team. Losing one player, no matter how iconic, is a small price to pay if the revenue builds you a new dynasty.
Of course, it is easy to be objective when you have no emotional ties to the situation, but what if the tables were turned, and Fabregas was the target of an equivalent bid? Five years younger than Kaka, his age compensates for the fact that he hasn’t reached the Brazilian’s level, so the bid would likely be similarly obscene. Would it be so easy to accept a sale as a good business decision?
The situations are not exactly equivalent. For starters, with City in the Premiership relegation zone, Kaka would be 28-29 before Milan could ever face them in competitive football, and then only if City were able to get themselves to European football’s top table, by no means a guarantee. As a result, Milan are unlikely to have their former player come back to haunt them, whereas Arsenal selling Fabregas to a club in the same division would only strengthen a side emerging as direct competition.
Also, Kaka may be the highest regarded player at Milan, but he is in star studded company in a squad that includes Maldini, Emerson, Gattuso, Inzaghi, Seedorf, Nesta, Pirlo, Ambrosini… the list goes on. His departure would hurt any club, but Milan are far more than the abilities of a handful of players, a criticism that is often justly levelled at Arsenal. Fabregas, at the tender age of 21, is already carrying an inexperienced and lightweight midfield, and his promotion to captain only confirmed his status at the club – head and shoulders above the rest.
There are a myriad of reasons why Arsenal would want to keep hold of such a character, but at what point does taking the money make sense? Forty million? Fifty? A hundred? At some point, the amount on the table would be enough to rebuild the squad entirely – are eight great players better than one superstar? One thing is for sure – if City really want someone, they’ll go as high as they need to, and will test every inch of resolve the selling club have.
AC Milan are a proud and prestigious club, and can certainly not be described as a selling one, if you define that term as one that nurtures and then cashes in when the price is right, a model 90% of the footballing world are forced to follow. But with City increasing the stakes, are there any clubs left that would resist if the numbers were big enough? And would they really be wrong to cave in?