AC Milan have paved the way for Brazil star Kaka to complete a Â£100million move to Manchester City by giving him permission to speak to the Barclays Premier League club.
The Serie A giants have decided it is time for Kaka to go and, in a remarkable move, put the onus on him by stating on their own official TV channel that a deal was on.
Although the message implored Milan’s fans to beg the 26-year-old to stay, it went on to suggest that ‘this could be the right figure’ due to the ‘current harsh economic climate’.
The ball’s in his court: Kaka trains in Milan this week but Manchester City manager Mark Hughes wants him training at Carrington by next week
Sportsmail can reveal that City are also close to another signing, that of Hamburg’s Holland holding midfielder Nigel de Jong.
The 24-year-old is valued at Â£15m and City manager Mark Hughes sees him as the club’s future anchorman after failing in bids to sign Scott Parker from West Ham and Lassana Diarra (now at Real Madrid) from Portsmouth.
But it is the Kaka deal that is the talk of football and in Italy Milan’s latest move was seen as a clear indication that the club are preparing for the former World Player of the Year to leave.
Milan’s TV channel also claimed Kaka would earn 20m euros a year after tax – the equivalent of Â£30m a year or Â£600,000 a week. Again, releasing such astounding details was seen as an attempt to gain the sympathy of their hugely passionate fans for allowing him to leave.
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani was silent on the matter last night and Milan were quick to suggest the statement from the TV channel did not represent the club’s official view. However, this was not being taken seriously in Italy.
Milan captain Paolo Maldini did weigh into the debate and suggested it would be a disaster for the club if Kaka left.
Good spirits: Milan legend Paolo Maldini (R) believes team-mate Kaka is feeling relaxed despite the current speculation linking him with a move to Manchester
He said: ‘This decision rests with the club but I can only stress that Kaka is very important to us and that his exit would be hugely negative.
‘For me this deal sounds incredible. No player is worth this much, not even Cristiano Ronaldo. But Ricky [Kaka] has said nothing about this to us. He seems pretty calm about everything.’
Kaka is expected to feature for Milan at home to Fiorentina on Saturday night and Maldini warned City that they will have to offer his team-mate more than just money if they are to persuade him to leave.
Maldini added: ‘I have known him for years and I am convinced he won’t have his head turned just by the money. He is not like that.’
Up to you: Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti is helpless over Kaka’s decision to accept a money-spinning move
However, Bosco Leite, Kaka’s father and representative, is expected to return to Milan from holiday in Brazil on Saturday in time for the game with Fiorentina and City are growing increasingly confident that they can tie up the deal.
City manager Hughes poured scorn on earlier suggestions that the club were about to pull out of the deal, while his assistant at Eastlands Mark Bowen revealed that Kaka was ‘quite close’ to giving the move his approval.
My way: Mark Hughes insists he is at the forefront of Manchester City’s transfer market moves – includingÂ talks over the potential arrival of superstar Kaka
Hughes also insisted that he is the man driving this transfer rather than club owner Sheik Mansour, and said: ‘This is a measured and calculated football decision that works for us and that’s the reason we have expressed an interest in a player of the quality of Kaka.
‘In the outset any thoughts about bringing a player of the quality of Kaka to the club has to start at a football level and that’s obviously my level.
‘I make my recommendations and then we try to pursue the process and see if we can get to a point where we feel can present something to a player’s club and that’s where we found ourselves this week.
‘If people think this is being done above my head then they are being totally naive.’
In terms of City’s pursuit of De Jong, the club are optimistic that they may finally be able to sign an international-class holding midfield player after three weeks of frustration.
City slicker: Holland international Nigel De Jong is close to agreeing a Â£15m move to Eastlands
De Jong spent four years at Ajax before moving to Hamburg in the summer of 2006. He has played 30 times for Holland.
City have a good relationship with Hamburg and signed De Jong’s midfield partner Vincent Kompany from the club last summer.
Discussions with Blackburn and West Ham about Roque Santa Cruz and Craig Bellamy are ongoing but Hughes has warned that City won’t wait for ever.
He added: ‘Maybe as we get towards the end of the window, situations will change, people’s attitude to deals will change.
‘Maybe we will revisit or maybe we will walk away from some deals. That’s for us to know and clubs to take the gamble with.’
City’s move for Kaka won’t tempt Arsene Wenger away from the ‘real world’, he admitted on Thursday.
The Arsenal manager believes the most important challenge for the football industry this year is for clubs to retain their fans as the recession bites, and made it clear he is reluctant to go higher than Â£10m in his bid for Zenit St Petersburg’s Andrei Arshavin.
‘England is losing 3,000 jobs every day,’ said Wenger.
‘Do you think that has no consequences on our game? You can hide that with Manchester City buying Kaka for Â£100m but that’s an exception. It doesn’t live in our world. We live in the real world.’
One piece of good news for City is that Robinho is definitely fit for Saturday’s home game with Wigan after struggling with an ankle injury.
Jumping on board: Espanyol say they have accepted a Â£2.5m bid to sell their soon-to-be out-of-contract Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni to Man City
Espanyol, meanwhile, say keeper Carlos Kameni has a deal in place to join the Eastlands club.
The Cameroon captain is out of contract in the summer but City are reported to have had a Â£2.5m offer accepted.
Mark Hughes still has unsettled Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given in his sights.-Daily Mail