Kaka's World Cup disappointment
Having secured a move back to Milan in September last year, Kaka arguably had two targets in mind: First, the Brazilian wished to rediscover the joy of playing football after a generally frustrating spell at Real Madrid. In addition, representing his country at a home World Cup was perhaps the main objective, and he admitted at the time of signing that he felt Milan could help him make it a reality.
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The 32-year-old has succeeded with the first to an extent, as he has made a positive impact in his second spell with the Rossoneri both on and off the pitch. While the club has struggled this season, nine goals and eight assists in 35 appearances would seem a respectable return, but that doesn't tell the entire story.
Inevitably, Kaka is no longer the same player that dazzled the San Siro in his first stint in Italy, with both his pace and stamina regressing in recent years. The Brazilian ace still has the vision and brain for top level football, but there have been signs that suggest his presence wouldn't have been such a benefit to Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Brazil icon Pele suggested this week that his experience would have been important for a relatively young group, yet in a 23-man squad is there really room to base your selections on experience alone over talented youngsters?
This is an area in which Kaka has undeniably benefited Milan this season, as there was significant criticism of the club in losing its identity by releasing so many veterans at the same time. The former Madrid star has acted as an example for the younger members of the Rossoneri squad, but to participate in another World Cup was a step too far.
While Milan should arguably follow their model, Brazil are essentially looking at the long-term future with a string of gifted players all generally around the same age which can build chemistry and move forward together to secure success.
Kaka no longer features in that vision, and sentiment aside, Scolari has made the right decision in leaving him behind. While it is undoubtedly a shame not to see the Milan legend grace the world stage one final time, a glance at the squad would suggest that his time is up.
That in turn will almost certainly lead to further speculation over his club future, with reports suggesting that MLS is an option despite rebuttals from the player himself. However, following this latest disappointment, coupled with the inability to turn Milan's fortunes around this season, there is a risk that we could see Kaka reconsider his options.
In his defence, he still has much to offer this squad in a transitional period, unlike his compatriot Robinho who was shockingly included in the discussion over "star" absentees from the Brazilian squad this summer.
Admittedly, there was some shock over the exclusion of the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Moura, but experience or no experience, Robinho didn't deserve a place in the squad.
While Kaka will now focus his attention on helping Milan end the season well, it is also worth noting that for the first time since 1994 that there are no players from the club in Brazil's World Cup squad. Given that Milan have just "paid homage to the nation" with their new third jersey for next season, perhaps this summer is a good time to rediscover that tradition with the next emerging talents.
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