Two days after a Marca report proclaiming Real Madrid’s plans to sell of Kaka in January – either to Corinthians or the New York Red Bulls – to finance a new contract for Cristiano Ronaldo, LA Galaxy chief Tim Leiweke surprised many MLS observers by telling Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated that Kaka is their number one target to replace the outgoing David Beckham.
It was only a few months ago that Kaka’s agent was expressing his client’s interest in an eventual move to MLS. And even more recently, when the Red Bulls signed Kaka’s brother – widely seen as a downpayment on the more famous sibling – Digao told the press that Kaka “wouldn’t be able to come now… but in the future, yes… it’s a possibility.”
There are a few surprises in Leiweke’s announcement. Obviously, the possibility of heading to MLS immediately, rather than waiting out the La Liga season, is one of them. But also, the Galaxy’s long-rumored interest in Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard seems to have waned, not based on talent, but rather demographics.
“I’m very proud of the fact we have a lot of people that are interested in the Galaxy. By the way, I’m a huge Frank Lampard fan, and I personally have great respect for him. I’ve gotten to spend some time with him, and he’s an unbelievably good guy. Is he the right fit for our team now for what we need?”
“Bruce and I happen to be on the same page about where we need to go next,” Leiweke said. “This next person has to be able to not only fit what Bruce needs on the pitch, but more importantly we’re an ever-changing demo in this marketplace, and we have to pay attention to that. It’s critical that we do the one thing we have never been able to do yet with the Galaxy, although we’ve tried. There is a Hispanic Latino population base we have to go conquer, and we haven’t.”
It will be interesting to see if a bidding war develops over Kaka’s next destination. As a single-entity league, it’s hard to imagine Don Garber not stepping into a tug-of-war between New York and Los Angeles. But Santos and Corinthians are also interested in bringing the Brazilian back home, which holds obvious advantages for Kaka’s chances of making the cut for the 2014 World Cup.