Across the Pond: The Kaka Saga

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Across the Pond: The Kaka Saga

This is the first in a new series that specifically aims to offer a different perspective on major events in the European sports world.

£135 million is a lot of money. The vast majority of us will never even see a fraction of that.

With numbers like that being attached to him, it's obvious that Kaka is a very special player.

Reports from the Guardian have Manchester City paying £108 million in transfer fees to AC Milan for Kaka's services, with the other £27 million being split between Kaka's agent and his father.

Again, that's a lot of money. But is it enough money to merit some of the reactions that it has been met with?

Sam Allardyce has said that unless Kaka is able to deliver instant results, the proposed signing will be a "disaster."

Arsene Wenger was more harsh in his assessment of City. While Wenger is pursuing the £20 million Andrei Arshavin, he is witnessing a historically lesser club attempt to spend over five times that much on a single player.

"It's like an abstraction. It does not look in connection to today's world. The implications would be disturbing for the market, an inflationary trend in a deflationary world. We live in the real world. City are in a different world," said Wenger on the saga.

Such a reaction from Wenger is no surprise, as he has long advocated smart spending and clubs living within their means.

Even Cesc Fabregas has chimed in, saying, "A good team will develop naturally, and trying to speed up this process with lots of money can be dangerous. If the club is well run, and the money they now have is well spent on building a good team, Manchester City will be dangerous. But money cannot work a miracle overnight."

Much of the outrage over the proposed signing centers around the sheer amount of cash that City are able to throw in Kaka's direction, but I can't hop on that bandwagon.

Tiger Woods, Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Garnett, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Kobe Bryant are all American athletes who routinely rake in either close to or more than $20 million per year in salary, before endorsements. Hell, Stephon Marbury is making $21.9 million this year to not play for the New York Knicks.

According to, most of the highest-paid male athletes in the world come from the world of American sports. Those figures also include advertising revenue, but a list of just salaries would also reveal that most of the highest-paid athletes in the world reside in America. By 2010, the New York Yankees alone will have four players slated to make more in salary than Kaka would should he move to Manchester City.

That's why I'm puzzled by all the talk about exorbitant transfer fees and large salaries. They have become a part of the landscape in America. Even after the massive credit crunch, we've seen the signing of several massive contracts. Mark Teixeira ($180m) and CC Sabathia ($161m) signed their contracts after the need for a federal bailout became obvious.

The big difference between Kaka and the American athletes is the transfer fee. Usually when an American switches teams, it is either by being traded for another player (similar to the Ashley Cole-William Gallas swap) or by being signed as a free agent (a free transfer.)

But football is a very profitable game, and it isn't difficult to imagine City recouping their transfer fee because of Kaka's immense skill and popularity.

Then there's also the fact that City's new ownership doesn't seem to care how much money they splash around during the transfer window. £135 million is a perfectly reasonable amount to ADUG. With their billions, this move makes sense.

While the numbers involved are unprecedented for a footballer, this is nothing out of the ordinary when one looks at the big picture in sports. Players costing $100 million and more are starting to become commonplace. Five years from now, a deal like Kaka's may be met with a lack of surprise instead of outrage from all opposed.

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