Kaka to LA Galaxy is a red-hot transfer rumour. The Real Madrid midfielder is being billed as the potential heir to David Beckham and is reportedly open to at least considering a move to the MLS (h/t ESPNFC).
The 30-year-old Brazilian international has loomed large in the gossip columns for three years. Kaka became the most expensive player in the world when he joined Madrid from AC Milan for £56 million in 2009, but has struggled to justify that tag since.
For now Kaka is but a peripheral member of Jose Mourinho's squad at the Bernabeu. He retains the ability to unlock defences and has turned in a number of match-winning performances for Madrid—just this week he scored a Champions League goal against Ajax—but he is as likely to find himself on the bench as a starter.
Is it time for Kaka to move on? Would the Galaxy represent a good option? Those are questions for Kaka and his agent to work through.
In the meantime, here's the evolution of the rumour.
Kaka's first season in Madrid was blighted by injury and didn't hit the heights you'd expect from a £56 million Galatico. Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long for rumours of a potential exit to follow.
Chelsea seemed to make the most sense. Kaka's former AC Milan manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was in charge and he spoke openly about his regular contact with the Brazilian. Ancelotti even came out and said Chelsea wanted Kaka.
"Chelsea target Kaka and Torres," claimed The People.
"Kaka keen to leave Madrid for Chelsea and Ancelotti," said Goal.com.
The rumour got so big Ancelotti eventually decided to kill it.
By that time Jose Mourinho was installed as the new manager at Madrid. Kaka said he was "excited" to work with The Special One and it appeared he'd be getting a fresh start.
Kaka's new dawn under Mourinho was a grey one. A knee injury called for surgery in August 2010 and Kaka didn't return to training until mid-December.
Mourinho continued to publicly support his player, reportedly telling Madrid president Florentino Perez that Kaka would be "like a new signing" when he returned and that there was "no player of his quality on the market."
That didn't stop the rumours flowing from August right through to the January 2011 window.
Manchester City had tried unsuccessfully to sign Kaka in 2009, and with their vast resources it was only natural they'd be named as a possible suitor again. Metro went with the line that City and Chelsea were both interested in a January deal for Kaka.
Kaka finally returned to action for Madrid on January 3, 2011—coming off the bench in their 3-2 La Liga win over Getafe.
But it wasn't long before injury struck again. Kaka contracted Iliotibial band syndrome—a knee problem—in March 2011 and was once again sidelined.
He returned for their Champions League quarterfinal tie against Tottenham and played his part in a 4-0 win at the Bernabeu. He also scored twice in a 6-3 Liga win at Valencia, putting in the kind of performance Madrid fans had been longing for.
Madrid's season ended in disappointment, however. Barcelona beat them in the semifinals of the Champions League and also to the Spanish title. Mourinho was left with a Copa del Rey triumph as his only consolation.
Kaka had endured another frustrating campaign. At its close, Metro claimed he'd been told he was "surplus to requirements" by Madrid. He was duly linked to a slew of clubs, including Chelsea (then under Andre Villas-Boas), Inter Milan and Manchester United.
Hardly surprising, when you consider in June 2011 Kaka had stated his desire to stay in Madrid. This, as per the Mirror:
It has been said Mourinho does not want me in Madrid but that is not true. He has always been very honest with me and consistent in his decisions about me and the team in general.
My desire is to remain at Real Madrid. I knew there would be speculation because since arriving in Madrid I have been linked with 10 teams. But Mourinho wants me to continue and I will follow.
Another window passed, and Kaka remained at Madrid.
Real Madrid were on fire and Kaka was enjoying his best spell since joining the club, but that didn't stop the rumours flying as we approached the January 2012 window.
Paris Saint-Germain were the new high rollers at the transfer table and it wasn't long before the French club were linked with a move for Kaka.
Goal.com claimed Kaka was top of their January shopping list, rightly predicting Carlo Ancelotti was set to take over as coach and using his close links with Kaka from their Milan days to add weight to the speculation.
Moreover, ESPNFC quoted an interview with Leonardo in the French press, in which PSG's director of football admitting to talking to Kaka.
Chelsea were still said to be interested, too. This Daily Mail report suggested Kaka could be theirs for £22 million, while also touching on reported interested from AC Milan and backing up the PSG speculation.
Kaka wasn't budging. Despite seemingly being behind Mesut Ozil in the pecking order at Madrid, he appeared to be in good spirits and intent on proving himself in La Liga.
"I think I will succeed in Madrid," Kaka told Real Madrid TV in October 2011 (h/t ESPNFC). "I am happy here and I want to play a decisive role. We must keep improving."
Madrid finished the 2011-12 season as runaway Spanish champions, but were once again thwarted at the semifinal stage of the Champions League.
Kaka had enjoyed his most productive season at the club, but he was still not a guaranteed starter under Mourinho and his former club AC Milan were trying very hard to get him back.
ESPNFC quoted an August interview with Milan vice president Adriano Galliani in the Italian press, in which he claimed talks were already under way. Galliani said said they wanted Kaka on loan, but Madrid would only countenance a permanent deal.
Turkish club Galatasaray also staked their claim. "Our objective is to convince Kaka," said their president, Unal Aysal, in August, as per ESPNFC.
We don't speak about negotiation even if it is or not rumour. What I can say to you right now is that Kaka have a dream to live in US and play in MLS. If isn't now, in the future probably he will join MLS.
When the Red Bulls signed Tim Cahill in July, a Kaka deal became impossible because their designated player quota was filled. The Post then went with the story that he was still keen, but a move to the MLS would have to wait until after World Cup 2014.
Unsurprisingly, it's around this time we also started to see talk of Kaka succeeding David Beckham as LA Galaxy's star attraction. Spanish newspaper AS took this line in August and their article was widely quoted.
By now, Mourinho was surely tired of answering the same question about his player. In August he admitted he wouldn't stand in the way of a deal taking Kaka away from Madrid.
"If Kaka stays I would be happy and I am happy if he wants to go," Mourinho said, as per the Guardian. "In football it is normal that the players play where they want."
David Beckham has exited LA Galaxy, leaving a David-Beckham-sized hole at the Home Depot Center and prompting much speculation about who might fill it.
Last month, one of Galaxy's owners told Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl they want Kaka. What's more, they think it's a deal with a real chance of happening.
Said AEG president Tim Leiweke:
We have a great relationship with Real Madrid, and just as we worked through a player with them six years ago [Beckham], I'm absolutely convinced we could find the right deal this time, too.
We then turn to the ESPNFC report which quotes Kaka talking to reporters in the wake of Madrid's Champions League win against Ajax on Tuesday night—in which he played and scored.
Kaka was asked if a move to LA Galaxy might happen. "I will go if I have an agreement with the club" was his response, which appears to suggest he's open to leaving for the MLS as soon as January if Madrid so wish.
You could read it that way. Or you could read it Kaka simply saying he was tired of not getting enough opportunities at Madrid and trying to make his point.
Either way, as we head toward the January window it's the possibility of a move to LA Galaxy that appears to be looming largest. We can still expect the usual suspects—Chelsea, Manchester United, Milan, PSG, Manchester City—to get a mention of course.
Could Kaka to LA Galaxy really happen?
Your guess is as good as the rumour-mongers who chase these things, but Kaka's desire to be part of Brazil's squad at World Cup 2014 will surely play into his thinking.