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Return of the Kak!

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Sentiment aside, are we right to question the usefulness of our favourite Brazilian son to this current Milan side?

Julian Finney

I'm not ashamed to admit that the news that Kaka would be lining up in red and black for another season was emotional for me- watching the Brazilian maestro link up with the likes of Seedorf, Rui Costa and Pirlo under Ancelotti was at the seed of my early interest in football that has bloomed into a full-blown obsession in adulthood.

Validly, I can see that many of those those who are able to look past the nostalgia value of this move are concerned that Kaka's return to the side will be rendered problematic by circumstantial factors such as the yard of blistering pace that he's lost over time, his longstanding injury niggles and lack of fitness, and the fact that this side isn't fully committed to the kind of narrow 4-3-1-2 that we'd be required to play to fit him in to the side week after week. In truth, however I feel these concerns somewhat miss the point of why the prodigal son has been brought home this summer. In seems fairly obvious to me that Kaka is never going to be a 90-minute man again for the Rossoneri, someone we look to to help us control whole matches and rack up attempts on goal across the totality of the game.

Instead, his usefulness to the side will be in pockets, helping to provide a boost in moments of serious need rather than acting as a lightening rod around which the new Milan can be built. Our pressing game towards the closing stages of last season had evolved into something seriously impressive to behold- but how often in games such as the Juventus, Napoli and Fiorentina ties could we have used a player that could turn around the pressing into chances by providing service to the forwards or breaking through into the area? So often it felt like that sharply observed, crisply-taken pass or coursing run into the final third was all that stood between three and one, or one or no points for Milan. It is in providing this tiny sliver of extra capacity that a fit and sparingly-used Kaka could be a surprise x-factor for Milan this season.

Yes, the squad is already stacked in the position he plays in, and yes, the squad has far more pressing needs to address at this moment in time if it wants to compete adequately for top honours this season. And maybe I am erring towards allowing the rose-tinted sentiment glasses to influence my view a little more than I should. But as a service that we have paid no money to import, it is to overstate the importance of the trait of winning edge. I for one would like to believe that Kaka can restore that element of true quality to a midfield which is high on engine-like energy and low on flair, even if he is spent as a starter in the autumn of his career.