The arrival of Ricardo Kaka at Milan was about as polarizing as most moves have been for the Rossoneri in the past few seasons. Even though it was classified as a free transfer, Silvio Berlusconi is going to have to pay more than €4 million in wages for the Brazilian's services.
Even more incredibly, Kaka slashed his yearly wages by nearly 50 percent to accept a move to the place he calls home.
It was a nostalgic transfer which improves Milan's marketing and ticket sales far more than the end result on the field. Even though the former Ballon d'Or winner is a hero to Milanisti, they should be prepared to see a far different Ricky than the one who graced the San Siro pitch for six seasons.
Long gone are the unstoppable gallops where Kaka would effortlessly glide down the field past onrushing defenders. Now that his pace is gone, he has had to transform his game and become a more typical No. 10.
Mauro Tassotti recently said that Kaka was not ready to play a full match yet and that he had to work to get the rhythm back in his feet.
Ironically, coach Massimiliano Allegri told the media that Kaka will start from the first minute against Torino over the weekend, which is very surprising given recent declarations written above. He'll be in charge of linking the midfield with the two front strikers.
The formation has already been changed to accommodate a player with Ricky's skill set. The 4-3-3, which was the primary formation used for the past three years, was changed to a 4-3-1-2, which allows a No. 10, also known as a "trequartista" in Italian, to operate behind the two front strikers.
Up top, Alessandro Matri will surprisingly flank Mario Balotelli. Stephan El Shaarawy will watch the game from the bench after suffering a minor leg injury.
Milan fans shouldn't expect too much from Kaka's debut. He only logged 19 domestic matches last season with Real Madrid, often as a second-half substitute. The rust in his game is evident, and it was discusses by the Milan coaching staff when they said it's clear he's not ready for a full match just yet.
Kaka will slowly get weaned into the formation until he finds top physical fitness. Another player to watch is the 21-year-old Riccardo Saponara, who has been compared to Kaka and plays the same position behind the strikers. Saponara is just coming back from injury and will fight for that same starting place in the formation.
It was always pretty obvious—Kaka's main attribute was his searing pace with the ball at his feet, and it'll be interesting to see how the new redefined version will do in Allegri's formation.