Maldini: Milan will struggle without Kaka

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The Independent Football

Winning the Champions League without Kaka is a Utopian dream for Milan, former captain Paolo Maldini said yesterday.

Financial worries prompted Milan to sell the Brazilian to Real Madrid but Maldini, who retired at the end of the season after 24 years with the Rossoneri, said he understood why fans and team-mates had reacted angrily.

"Kaka is the first player of this level to be sold [by Milan]. In the past, an idea like that would never have been considered," the 40-year-old told a news conference.

"Looking at the accounts is logical but it is also logical to set attainable targets, thinking of winning the Champions League without Kaka is a Utopian dream."

Milan, who want VfL Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko, have said no other high-profile names will leave despite Brazil forward Alexandre Pato and Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo questioning their futures.

"Before leaving Milan, Pirlo would think about it not 10 but at least 100 times," Maldini said. "I don't believe there will be another soap opera like Kaka with Pato. He must stay here."

Maldini, who is yet to decide on his future off the pitch, was upset with Milan's hierarchy for not outwardly condemning supporters' banners criticising the captain during his final San Siro appearance last month.

But he made it clear he did not want a simmering feud and backed owner Silvio Berlusconi's decision to appoint Leonardo as coach to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who left for Chelsea.

"Leonardo is a gamble but in general the president has won these types of bets. Bringing in innovation and youth is not a bad thing, it is a courageous choice," he said.

Argentina striker Julio Cruz will leave Serie A champions Internazionale after finding his chances limited last term, president Massimo Moratti said yesterday.

"Cruz has been fundamental for us. Players like that don't deserve to be reserves so it is right they find space in other teams," Moratti said. He added that defender Marco Materazzi's contract had been extended to 2012.

Uncertainty surrounds striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, amid reports of a swap deal with Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o, but forward Hernan Crespo is close to joining Genoa, with Diego Milito and Thiago Motta going the other way.

"I am not pushing to sell players, we will see what offers arrive," Moratti said. "Certainly, given it's the transfer window, someone will leave."