For the last couple of seasons, it seems Kaka is always entering some sort of test-campaign to prove he’s still a world-class talent deserving of more chances and minutes in the lineup of Real Madrid, and ends up being disappointed. Once again, and possibly for the final time, he’s hoping to make the most of his final chance to make it big on a club that regrets ever signing him.
The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti is something Kaka has to feel optimistic about. The signings of Illarramendi and Isco? Not so much. The Real Madrid midfield is crowded with Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Sami Khedira, Asier Illarramendi, Mesut Ozil and Isco. While Kaka cost more than any of them, his credit for being expensive and the best player in the world six years ago is long gone.
What are the chances of him becoming a starting player, or at least someone who gets the opportunity to contribute more than he has under the Jose Mourinho regime? Hard to say. Ancelotti promised a clean slate for everyone, and he may have some favorable prejudice leanings towards Kaka, but anything but a very strong training camp and preseason is going to push him down the midfield hierarchy once again.
There are other options for Kaka – playing on the left wing, similar to how he played for Ancelotti at times for Milan. The Italian loves using four central midfielders in his lineups, with one of the two forwards playing in a wider position. Maybe that will be Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays better when he begins out wide, regardless of where he finishes. Kaka playing close to him sounds strange, but with so much talent packing the middle, he has to moved somewhere he can at least try and be more dominant.
At this stage of his career, turning 32 in April 2014, it doesn’t really matter to him. Simply playing more than the 19 matches he did last season in the La Liga (only 12 starts, usually in less-than-meaningful matches) will be good enough, especially if it brings him to the attention of Scolari, who let him play back in March, but probably doesn’t favor bringing Kaka back to the national team after establishing a successful lineup in the Confederations Cup.
Kaka wants to succeed at Real Madrid, he hasn’t given that up. He wants to play for Brazil in the world cup, and might have had a better chance doing that by moving to another team. But Real Madrid still want money for him after paying €65 million back in 2009. His salary of €9 million a season doesn’t help anyway.
Is this his year? Most would say no. Even Ancelotti can’t revive his career, knowing that the other players on the team are simply better. He’ll get chances, that’s for sure, but it’s going to be very surprising if after three years of being a marginal player for the team, he still has what it takes to be meaningful, in the lineup, once again.