The most expensive and lucrative job switch in the history of football (if not history of anything, ever) collapsed yesterday as Brazilian star Kaka decided against a move from AC Milan to Manchester City, turning down the chance to be come the sport's first three-figure million pound player and a wage of around half a million pounds a week.
That anyone can turn down that amount of money, for whatever reasons, is in itself a commendably brave rejection. Just a month's wages could set his family up for life, two months' pay would virtually save the UK economy in a single shopping spree. True, Kaka already commands a wage of around £100,000 a week at AC Milan, but while cynics would suggest anyone earning that much doesn't need a pay rise, not many people would ignore an opportunity to increase their wage by 500%. Imagine someone who happily earns £50k a year, and is offered the same job for a new company at £250k. Why turn it down purely because the current situation is comfortable? Make hay while the sun shines, and all that.
But the truth lies deeper than money. Kaka is the shining light of an imbalanced, ageing AC Milan team past their dominant glory years, and, though they're rebuilding slowly (and with Yohan Gourcruff still on their books, ominously so), a rejuvenated, new look Milan is far from ready to challenge seriously in their domestic league, never mind Europe. While the sale of Kaka made business sense, it would have been almost sporting suicide: not least because the backlash from the Italian media and the Rossoneri would have almost certainly lead to the notoriously violent and sometimes fatal scenes Italy's football supporters are well-versed in.
Depending on where you read, Kaka may or may not have been open to the idea of a move to Manchester City. Stories emerging today point to the steady influence of his father, who City's representatives talked with, and the stumbling block posed by AC Milan's apparently slow conduct in the transfer negotiations, as the reasons behind the failed move. It is also likely that a media furore about the sheer scale of the transfer got in the way of the hard facts over the last few days. But whatever the reasons for the deal's ultimate collapse, a quiet sigh of relief at the sport just about extracting itself from madness has probably been breathed all over the world (bar the City of Manchester stadium). I don't think the world of football is quite ready for the first £100m pound player.