Manchester City were always likely to be the headline-grabbing act during the January transfer window – and the revelation that they are actively pursuing AC Milan forward Kaka has ensured that they have delivered.
Previously we had to be content with City signing Chelsea reserve full-back Wayne Bridge, signed for a fee in the region of £10m, and rumoured bids for the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker.
All good players but not exactly box office.
City’s pursuit of Kaka, on the other hand, fulfils everybody’s expectations of the sort of world class, extraordinarily expensive footballing talent that a club bankrolled by the fabulously wealthy Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan can afford to sign.
City’s owner flexed his muscles with the £30m capture of Robinho from Real Madrid in August but now seems to be moving his spending to a whole new level.
The back pages of Wednesday’s newspapers are dominated by images of sublime Brazilian Kaka, with a range of transfer fees up to £100m and talk of weekly wages of £500,000 dominating the column inches.
For the record, the world record transfer currently stands at the £47m Real Madrid paid Juventus for Zinedine Zidane.
I personally think that £100m for a footballer is a disgusting amount – and that to pay someone £500,000 per week to kick a football, no matter how brilliantly, perfectly illustrates just how insane our world actually is.
On the other hand, City’s owner is worth a reported £15bn. He can afford to play fantasy football and is now doing so. And I could hardly blame City fans if the prospect of the Brazilian arriving at the club was a cause of real excitement.
But if City sign Kaka I think it raises more questions than answers.
Obviously Kaka is quality and would enhance any side but is he really the sort of player City need in this transfer window?
City make me think of one of those wild west towns that you see in the movies. As you walk down the street they look great at the front but, on closer inspection, they have nothing at the back.
Manager Mark Hughes has plenty of attacking talent to call on in Robinho, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland, Elano, Darius Vassell, Benjani, Jo, Felipe Caicedo and Daniel Sturridge. Martin Petrov will return before the end of the season, as will Valeri Bojinov.
All six of their Premier League victories have been by at least three goals but I cannot help but wonder whether their 10 defeats should not be of more pressing concern. It is why they are 15th in the Premier League table.
City have been linked with Villarreal’s defensive midfielder Marcos Senna. He was brilliant at Euro 2008 and is exactly the sort of player City need. Dietmar Hamann’s legs had been starting to show their age but now the German is injured and he must be replaced.
Micah Richards has been disappointing this season and City might be advised to bolster their defensive options.
The pursuit of Santa Cruz, Bellamy and Parker feels to me like Hughes’s targets – proven Premier League players who will help to improve his squad climb the table. I wonder how he feels about the pursuit of Kaka?
Hughes is in a near impossible position, presiding over a struggling team while trying to meld the competing forces of pragmatism and fantasy football.
You often hear people talk about a player being a good acquisition for the Premier League and the arrival of Kaka would enhance the quality of the division.
But it cannot do much for the prospects of City’s home grown players. City are regarded as having one of the best youth systems in the Premier League and in Sturridge have produced a forward who has shown glimpses of great potential. Will players like him get the chance to flourish at City?
The Manchester club has long lived in the shadow of city rival’s United but that all seems set to change now that the owner appears to be backing up his talk of big things by opening his wallet.
City have always been a club rich in drama and entertainment. And the arrival of Kaka would certainly make for fascinating viewing.