x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fans plead with Kaka to stay on

While there were many, it was one banner in particular that summed up the high regard for Kaka - and it was not just from the AC Milan fans.

Kaka congratulates teammate Massimo Ambrosini after the Rossoneri's victory over Fiorentina.
Kaka congratulates teammate Massimo Ambrosini after the Rossoneri's victory over Fiorentina.

MILAN // While there were many, it was one banner in particular that summed up the high regard for Kaka - and it was not just from the AC Milan fans. "Incredible 22" it read, and David Beckham wholeheartedly agreed, clinging on to the hope that the Brazilian will remain his teammate.

Manchester City are pursuing Kaka and while the Premier League club say there is still work to be done on the deal, those with allegiance to Milan are praying their star man will remain at the San Siro. After an emotional and battling 1-0 win over Fiorentina that saw Kaka feted by the faithful, but tight-lipped afterwards, it was left to Beckham, making his home debut, to provide the viewpoint. "It was a tough game with all the hype and what's been going on with Kaka," he said.

"I think he'll be here for a long time and every player hopes he will be. You could see the reaction of the fans and the people; we all love him. "Every club in the world would want a player like him. He's not just a great player, but one of the nicest people you would want to meet. "There's always going to be speculation with big clubs, about big players, and they don't come much bigger than Kaka. He shows week in week out how passionate he is about the club.

"At the moment he's a Milan player and hopefully he will stay like that because he's an incredible player." Beckham is no stranger to Manchester having started his career at United and built up his fame and fortune. He is now following a new path at Milan with his loan move from the Los Angeles Galaxy, and says Kaka does not really need any advice about his future or if English football would be the place to display his immense talent.

"He will decide what he wants to do," added Beckham. "It's not always about money, it's about playing for the best team, playing with the best players in the world and winning trophies and being successful. "I only care about Manchester United personally. Manchester City have been bought by a company now and there's a lot of money there, but for me, United are the only team in Manchester." Talks are expected to continue today with Kaka's father and adviser Bosco Leite due in Manchester to discuss the deal.

But the Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani added: "Kaka is still a Milan player and we have not signed anything. "We are thinking about it, but there is still time to decide. The football transfer market has always existed and I am a Milan fan, but I have the responsibility of running this club so I have to think with my head as well as my heart." Galliani's comments were backed up by the Manchester City manager Mark Hughes after he saw his side beat Wigan.

"From a football management point of view I would love the opportunity to work with such a talented player," he said. "But it is not a simple transfer. It is not just a case of talking to the club and talking to the boy and getting the deal done within 24 to 48 hours. The deal, if it is to be concluded, is very complex as there are so many elements to it. "It is not going to be an easy process and won't be concluded quickly.

"I am sure we will give it the amount of time it deserves. "We find ourselves in a special situation. We are interested in one of the top players in the world. "When we get it right we are a good team. We want to make a compelling argument to him that he could be part of something that could be really special." While all of the attention back in Milan was on Kaka, it was another Brazilian who shone.

Alexandre Pato's goal in the seventh minute was his sixth in the Rossoneri's last four Serie A fixtures, and it took his side to within six points of league leaders Inter Milan. Fiorentina went close several times in the second half, but not even a red card for Milan defender Marek Jankulovski in stoppage time could alter the outcome. Reggina remain deep in the relegation mire after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Siena.

Mario Frick's goal 15 minutes from time was enough to give the Bianconeri three points which sees them leapfrog Sampdoria and move up to the relative comfort of 14th spot. akhan@thenational.ae