AC Milan playmaker Kaka has rejected a record-breaking offer from Manchester City and the chance to become the world’s best-paid soccer player, saying the Italian club is where he belongs.
“All the messages coming my way said to choose with my heart, and at the end that’s what the choice was. It was absolutely not economical,” Kaka told Milan Channel late on Monday after Italian Prime Minister and AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi broke the news that the player was staying.
“Kaka is staying with Milan,” Berlusconi told a TV show. “For Kaka, money isn’t everything. ... Kaka is and remains with Milan.”
Shortly after his comments, City issued a statement confirming it had ended negotiations with the Italian club over the transfer.
Kaka’s decision was greeted with scenes of celebration in Milan, but dealt a serious blow to City’s plans of using its newfound wealth to quickly build a world-class squad after being taken over by an Abu Dhabi investment group during the offseason.
The news came following a full day of meetings between Milan, City and Kaka’s father and chief adviser — Bosco Leite — to discuss a bid that was said to be £100 million (US$147 million). City had reportedly been ready to offer Kaka a salary of nearly £500,000 pounds a week — by far the highest in soccer.
Upon hearing the news, fans holding vigil outside Kaka’s downtown home celebrated as if the Brazilian had scored a goal. They began chanting and Kaka poked his head out a window and made a celebratory gesture himself, applauded, and threw a Milan jersey down toward the crowd.
Berlusconi added in a phone interview with the Processo di Biscardi show that he had tried to persuade the player to stay.
“It was my intervention but also his,” he said. “When I heard he preferred to stay, that he hadn’t thought about losing a chance for a higher salary and that he put the values of the club, friendship and fans affection above all else, I said, ‘Come on,’ and we hugged.”
Earlier, a group of about 500 fans protested outside Milan’s downtown offices, chanting “Don’t sell Kaka.” A few flares were lit, but no problems were reported.
Some fans then moved toward Kaka’s home and chanted, “Stay with us, Ricardo,” to which Kaka replied by approaching a window with a Milan jersey in hand and beat his hand three times on his heart, sending the fans into delirium, the ANSA news agency reported.
There had been speculation that Kaka’s camp would ask for a revision of his contract with Milan if he decided to stay, although he is already the highest paid player for the Rossoneri at 9 million euros (US$12 million) per season, and Milan does not appear inclined to accept such a request.