Orlando City S.C., one of MLS' newest franchises, reportedly made Brazilian star Kaka their first designated player. The team announced the move on Tuesday:
ESPN's Taylor Twellman first reported the move:
The team posted a video of Kaka being announced to fans:
The Orlando Sentinel's Paul Tenorio spoke to a source inside the league who confirmed the report.
Since Orlando City aren't scheduled to join the league until 2015, the midfielder will play for Sao Paulo in the interim. The deal is similar to the one David Villa signed with New York City F.C. He'll play for Melbourne City before moving on to MLS.
This move has been in the offing for a few months now. Back in March, Kaka revealed in an interview with Corriere della Sera in Italy that he'd consider a move to the United States, via MLSSoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe:
“One day, I would like to play in America,” Kaká said. “Let’s see. At the end of the season, I will talk to [general manager Adriano Galliani]. Not just to speak about bonuses and money -- money is not the main thing for me now, and I think that is understood. I want to see what his ideas are and what the club’s ideas are.
“If it turns out I need to move, I will choose the MLS.”
In terms of stature, Orlando City couldn't have done much better than Kaka. He won a Serie A title with A.C. Milan in 2004 and a Champions League title with the club in 2007. After moving on to Real Madrid, he collected a La Liga title in 2012 as well.
The 32-year-old was once considered the best player in the world, winning the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007.
The problem with Kaka is that he's been dealing with injuries for the past few years now. His on-pitch performance has suffered as a result. Fox Soccer's Keith Costigan is a bit skeptical that the player has much left in the tank:
Kaka has been finished for quite a while. Not exactly enthused with his addition to @MLS— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) June 19, 2014
Plenty of big stars have made the move to MLS before, only to be spectacular failures because their physical condition was poor. Lothar Matthaus and Rafa Marquez are the two biggest examples. If Kaka's still dealing with injuries by the time he is an Orlando City player, he could be in major trouble.
But as much as you can look at the on-pitch impact, this is a tent-pole signing for a new soccer franchise in the U.S. Orlando City are sending a message to fans and the rest of the league that they mean business, not to mention they'll probably move a ton a Kaka No. 10 shirts.
They wanted to make some noise with their first foray into the transfer market, and that's exactly what they've done.