Sunday, January 18, 2009

Milan fans urge Kaka to stay in "farewell" game

The future of Kaka remains shrouded in doubt, despite the overwhelming support of 65,000 fans and his AC Milan team-mates on Saturday night.

The Brazil playmaker put his hand to his heart as he left the field of play at the end of his side's 1-0 win over Fiorentina, waving emotionally and applauding the fans who have grown to love him over the past five years.

His team-mates all took turns in hugging him in scenes which could easily be interpreted as a send-off from the Lombardian city.

Kaka now faces an unprecedented test of character in deciding whether to accept Manchester City's millions - and turn his back on the affection shown so palpably - or stay put.

"The fans showed a great gesture of affection to Kaka,'' said Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti. "I don't think this was his last game for Milan. I hope he stays because he is an important player for us.''

But Kaka certainly faces a difficult decision - one his team-mate Gianluca Zambrotta does not envy him for.

"If I were offered 15 million a year, I don't know what I would do,'' said the Italian. "This is a choice of a lifetime and it is hard to make up your mind just like that.

"Kaka is an outstanding player and he is capable of making the difference all by himself.''

However, while manifesting their desire to keep hold of the undeniably talented 26-year-old, Milan have already expressed their willingness to negotiate a fee with City.

Earlier, Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi claimed he would not attempt to obstruct the deal, admitting it would be "very difficult'' to force the player to remain with his club in view of the millions being offered by City.

Ancelotti admitted he has already contemplated life after Kaka.

"If he were to leave, I would be very sorry,'' he admitted. "If things were to change, then I would have to consider a team without Kaka. He is very important and certainly the squad would change.

"We as a club have always worked together to create a team and that is precisely what will happen after this affair.''

Alexandre Pato, who scored the winning goal last night to move onto six goals in his last four Serie A games, gave the club's fans reason to believe the world would not fall apart if Kaka left.

At the age of 19, he has already shown more than just odd glimpses of his ability, and the Milan faithful seem ready to adopt him, as is Ancelotti.

"Pato is very strong,'' he said. "And he is only going to get better. He has immense quality and can still show a lot more in front of goal.''

Negotiations to sell Kaka can, therefore, seemingly move on. The player's father, who also acts as his agent, is expected in Milan tomorrow to discuss the options, although there will be no rush in reaching a conclusive decision.

"It will not be like the Normandy landings,'' said Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani.

"We will consider things and take a decision together. Nobody has signed anything - not the club nor the player. He is still a Milan player, we are just evaluating and considering.

"There is no D-Day.''

Clarence Seedorf said: "I would be surprised if he left. I don't think he has made up his mind yet, but it would surprise me if he left us in January.''

David Beckham has only just joined the Serie A club and admits he would like to get to know Kaka a bit better over the next two months before he returns to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

"He's a great lad and it's great to play in the team with him,'' he said. "He is one of the best players in the world and it is obvious that the best players are always the focus of speculation.

"But he loves Italy and he loves Milan. I don't think he will leave.''

Milan have reportedly agreed to let Kaka hear what City have to offer, but Beckham still expects Kaka to follow his heart.

Given the reception the Brazilian had, with 65,000 voices calling on him to stay and pleading with the club not to sell him, Beckham is not too worried about City's advances.

"I don't think anybody in the dressing room is thinking about how much money they can earn,'' said the England international.

"It's about playing with the best team with the best players in the world and winning trophies and it's not always about money.

"Riccardo doesn't need my advice. He will decide what he wants to do, but he loves Milan.''

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