Soccer: Madrid gets Kaka for $92 million
By MARCO SIBAJA
Associated Press Writer
RECIFE, Brazil — Brazil midfielder Kaka finalized his move to Real Madrid on Monday, marking the end of a “soap opera” and the start of a new phase of his career in Spain.
“Now the soap opera is over,” said Kaka, decked out in a yellow Brazilian national team jersey after a practice session ahead of Wednesday’s Brazil-Paraguay qualifier in the northeastern coastal city of Recife. “The only leftover details were the medical exams, and I’ve done them. The negotiations are closed and I have sealed my transfer to Real Madrid.”
Real Madrid announced the signing of the attacking midfielder from AC Milan earlier Monday. The Spanish club gave no financial details but reports said Madrid will pay Milan 65 million euros ($92 million) for Kaka, making it one of the richest deals in football history.
The largest previous transfer was set by Zinedine Zidane when he joined Madrid from Juventus for $65 million in 2001.
Kaka, who passed a medical in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife earlier Monday, signed a six-year contract.
“Kaka is one of the players that every team would like to have and Madrid had the chance to get him,” Madrid president Florentino Perez told radio station Onda Cero just before the signing was announced.
Kaka is the first player to join Madrid since Perez regained the club presidency unopposed last week.
Perez has said he intends to revive his “galactico” policy which, along with Zidane, attracted star players like David Beckham, Ronaldo and Luis Figo to Madrid earlier in the decade.
Kaka called Perez’s strategy “an interesting sports project.”
“He’s trying to buy other players, and I think he can make a very offensive team,” he told a news conference. “That’s behind my decision to go to this team.”
Kaka said he talked with Beckham about his transfer, and the England veteran said it would be the best step for his career.
“I hope to be part of this new project and help to win titles, both European and Spanish,” he said.
Kaka, the 2007 FIFA world player of the year, turned down a record 100 million euros transfer to Manchester City last season.
Presently in Brazil for World Cup qualifiers, Kaka will travel to South Africa with the national team for the June 14-28 Confederations Cup.
Despite previously saying he was happy at Milan, the size of Madrid’s bid appears to have proved too much for the Italian club to ignore. Last week, Milan president Silvio Berlusconi and chairman Adriano Galliani said the club had made huge financial losses in recent times.
Madrid’s interest in signing Kaka goes back some years. Former Madrid president Ramon Calderon pledged to sign the player in 2006 when he was running for election.
Perez is expected to attempt to sign several more top names for Madrid before the start of next season. Last week, he announced that Madrid would also be looking to land Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The departure of Kaka, who won the Champions League with Milan in 2007 and the Italian league in 2004, came a week after the coach Carlo Ancelotti left to take charge of Chelsea.
Kaka also said he believes Argentine striker Lionel Messi of Barcelona should be declared best player in the world, but hopes Madrid will overcome its archrival.
“I hope this Barcelona domination ends and that Real Madrid wins the new titles,” Kaka said.