£100m: City in record bid for Milan's Kaka

The Eastlands club is on the brink of completing football's most astonishing deal for the Brazilian superstar.
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The Independent Online

Manchester City have launched football's most astonishing transfer bid – a world record £100m cash offer to Milan for Kaka, which City were highly confident last night would succeed in bringing the Brazilian to Eastlands.

A source close to the negotiations told The Independent last night that the deal was "99 per cent done" following a meeting in which City's executive chairman Garry Cook and two representatives of Sheikh Mansour al-Nahyan tabled a bid plus an offer of £15m a season wages to entice the player. Though Milan have provided no official sense of whether Kaka is leaving, a report on the website of Mediaset, the media company owned by Milan proprietor Silvio Berlusconi, reported that the offer "would be difficult for Milan to turn down."

The carefully worded statement is understood to have been seen and approved by Berlusconi and City. The incredible sums on offer are, it seems, likely to swing the deal. Berlusconi has recently insisted that Kaka is not for sale at any price and a brief, untimed statement by him on Mediaset's website said that he "hopes" Kaka will stay.

But this statement suggested otherwise. "This time they [Manchester City] are here for real," it said. "They want Kaka at whatever cost. City moved to open the transfer bid. [City] have always wanted Kaka as their main target to relaunch an all-star squad which is capable of competing with their cousins [Manchester] United, the world champions." Also present at the meeting were Ernesto Bronzetti, Milan's commercial director, who has responsibility for transfers, and Kia Joorabchian.

Joorabchian, who has been working independently of Manchester City in the deal through his company Sport Invest, has been urging this offer for weeks. The businessman, who was instrumental in bringing Robinho to Eastlands has, as The Independent revealed last month, urged Cook to embark on the policy of attempting bringing a single mega-star to City, rather than to head down the route which Chelsea followed – of attracting many lower bracket players like Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastian Veron and others. Joorabchian has told City that a player of Kaka's calibre now will help open the door to others such as Gianluigi Buffon, David Villa and Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer.

Kaka was always the top target identified by Joorabchian, who confirmed to The Independent last night that the figures quoted by Mediaset were accurate. Though City's new Arab owners have always been behind the plan, also advocated by the influential agent Pini Zahavi, there were initial suggestions that Mark Hughes was less than enthusiastic and it has been a concern to Joorabchian that Cook and City's managing director, Paul Aldridge, may prefer to head down Hughes' route of hiring proven Premier League players for the difficult months ahead.

"They are going for a big player," a source, who has been involved in the discussions, said in December. "If they really want to be a big club and move to a new level they need to get a big player in and that would mean one of Kaka, Messi, Ronaldo or Tevez, because of his availability. Unless a player like that can be signed then it will be a struggle and the sooner it is done the better, which means trying to do so in January. Then others will follow."

Many in Italy still consider it inconceivable that Kaka will leave Milan for a labouring City side. But there is a school of thought that Berlusconi has sanctioned David Beckham's arrival to give fans the sense that there is a new superstar to take the place of the outgoing one. Kaka has publicly expressed a desire to play in the Premier League and is known to have had discussions with Robinho about a move to City. The £32m man's presence would be a huge part of the draw for Kaka and, as things currently stand, his signing in the summer is looking a more vital part of City's development plans than ever.

If the Kaka offer does fail, City's bid for a megastar would appear to be labouring. John Terry is very much in that bracket, though the prospect of him leaving Stamford Bridge is remote in the extreme. Villa is equally reluctant to leave Valencia. That is why City are so delighted about the way yesterday's meeting went.

One view in Italy has it that Kaka will be persuaded that his future might lie elsewhere because he is no longer the most beloved player at San Siro. That position is filled by Pato these days. A move of such proportions would dwarf the £48m that Real Madrid paid Juventus for Zinedine Zidane in 2001 – and delight Sheih Mansour. Rumour has been rife around Eastlands that the Sheikh has been looking for a "present" to himself and the club, capable of raising its profile as Robinho's arrival did in September.

According to the Mediaset report, Milan also rejected the advances of Harry Redknapp yesterday when the Tottenham manager offered Heurelho Gomes and Gareth Bale for their second-string goalkeeper, Christian Abbiati.

Kaka: Road to Eastlands?

Born: 22 April 1982 in Brasilia, Brazil.

* Joined Sao Paulo at the age of eight and made his senior debut in 2001.

* Part of Brazil's World Cup-winning team in 2002.

* In 2003, Milan paid €8.5m for him.

* In 2007, he won the Ballon d'Or and the Fifa World Player of the Year.

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