Money talks and Kaka walks as Silvio suffers austerity

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Money doesn’t talk in Milan. It screams and shouts and pushes its way to the front of any massed gathering.

The ultras who congregated in front of AC Milan’s plush city centre headquarters on Thursday were always going to have a hard time being heard over the honking of horns, the rattle of passing trams and the rumble of sharp-suited businessmen on their mopeds making their way home after keeping the wheels of Italian finance turning.

The fans did their best with their terrace chants, flag-waving and igniting the odd flare, but it was like shouting into a gale-force wind.

Ricky Kaka is leaving this time, and no end of protests from those who populate the infamous Curva Sud at the San Siro is going to change anything.

It was so different back in January when it was Kaka’s turn to scream and stamp his foot at the very thought of going to Manchester City.

In the end, he got his way – against the wishes of the club and his father/agent.

Then it was an imperial wave from the window of his downtown apartment, but this time he’s out of town – smiling into the camera at Brazil’s training camp halfway round the world.

Kaka gives Pato a leg-up

It is doubtful whether Kaka – who had thousands of Milan-supporting kids in tears at the start of the year at the thought of never seeing him in a red and black shirt again (goodness knows how their parents will pacify them this time) will return to the city to say farewell.

The magnitude of the situation has yet to sink in and this time Silvio Berlusconi will really have to face the music.

Being our leader, he has a small matter of voting in the European elections this weekend.

And even though he appeared on the country’s premier political television programme to drum up some last-minute support, he had to spend most of his time fielding questions about why he was selling his best player.

Of course, it’s all down to the economy, stupid – or should that be the stupid economy. Milan have a 70m euro black hole in their finances and suffered a 19 million euro loss last year – up some 8 percent from the previous season.

Real Madrid’s donation will ease the pressure on that debt and of course there will also be a massive wage bill wiped off the books.

Milan pay Kaka something in the region of 9m euro a year – net. If you want to see how his bank balance is faring by the second check out this sobering little site.

Of course, believe it or not, taxes do have to be paid in Italy and the club have to come up with the 43 percent demanded for the government coffers.

In Spain, the equivalent figure is 24 percent over five years so it’s obviously less of a burden for Real to pay the player the same amount.

Berlusconi explained all of this and more to the county’s rather large TV-watching public, and in doing so came across as one of the masses: a man with bills to pay at the end of the month, a man who wanted the best for his kids, a man who in these austere times had to make sacrifices.

A vote-winner? More than likely, and an electoral landslide would ease the pain of selling off his greatest asset and the best talent to have played in Italy for the last decade.

"Buddy, can you spare a Euro?"

Besides picking the team, Berlusconi can now impose a wage cap at the club, something he has been planning for some time, with rumours flying that it will be set at a maximum of 3.5m euro a year for new signings (Ed: that’s about £60,000 per week, or less than half of John Terry’s wage) – with the squad average a lot lower. 

Then there are a range of changes to save a cent or two, like cutting back on the number of 'free' flights home for South American players, and the comparable perks received by their European team-mates – something that is certain to get the dressing room grumbling at how unfair the world is.

Will these new measures entice the big names to join the club? If they’re in it just for the filthy lucre, probably not.

But then again, it’s still Milan: seven-time European Cup winners, the home of classy football and all that.

Players come and go, but the club will always be there. But try telling that to a young Rossoneri supporter with a No.22 Kaka shirt on his back.

Just as well they aren’t of voting age.

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