15 01 2009

That’s how much Manchester City are offering AC Milan for Kaka, former world player of the year. The fee is obscene, of course it is, but that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to say how sorry I feel for Mark Hughes. Reading his comments today that try to justify such a fee, it seems he is floundering amid the pressure of being manager of the richest club in the world, and not liking it one jot. It doesn’t make business sense at all. £91million is quite a lot of money for one player. Then you have various fees, wages and the rest. It will cost City’s owners a lot in the long term.

Nor does it make footballing sense. Manchester City are not floundering near the foot of the Premier League due to their inability to score goals, they have outscored everyone at home so far this season (with the exception of Manchester United). Their problems lie in their defence. The once impressive Micah Richards and Richard Dunne look bereft of confidence and, at the moment, ability. Vincent Kompany is not looking like the sort of player that fans of Football Manager know. Wayne Bridge has been bought to help the problems, but from left-back, it is hard to make a really telling impact in the centre of defence. Manchester City need world-class defenders, not attackers. If they sort out this problem, then they could begin to look at climbing the table, with the possibilty of considering a European place next season. Until then they will be top heavy, and will lose football matches.

I seem to remember Real Madrid making the same mistake. As they built a team of Galacticos at the start of this decade, they bought the likes of Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Beckham, which had the effect of making them great going forward, but lacking in defence (despite the ever impressive Iker Casillas in goal). Yes, it did win them the Champions League in 2000 and 2002, and La Liga in 00-01 and 02-03, but then they won nothing for four more years, as the stars waned and got older. Their defence was always considered their weakest link (as evidenced by the importance to them of Makelele), but they had enough good players to win them games. Manchester City do not have that yet, and regardless of whether they add Kaka this month, this will remain the case.

Nor is it clever to assume the player will find top form straight away. Robinho has been good, but has hardly set the league alight in the same way as Van Nistelrooy or Torres have done previously. For a £32million player, you would be inclined to expect a little more. The same could happen to Kaka. Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of Kaka, and have been for years (whilst he was still relatively unknown), but moving to a new country, a new club, a new climate, a new culture and a new league can impact upon players. Morientes was a great player in Spain, Shevchenko was great at AC Milan, but when both came to England, they struggled, and looked shadows of their former selves.

I genuinely hope Kaka doesn’t come to Manchester City this month. I think that he is too good a player to be found at a club like City (or indeed a club like Chelsea). I would much rather see him in a side that plays the game in the same manner as he does, exciting, flowing football, scoring goals for fun, that hint of genius running through the side. In the Premier League there is only one club I would like to see him at, and that’s Arsenal, but that Sylvan Wiltord is still Arsenal’s record signing tells you all you need to know about Wenger’s transfer policy. Money may well talk, but I really hope it doesn’t.




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