Welcome to this week’s Euroscore round-up with all the main news from around the European football leagues. There is no featured match as such this week; instead we go straight into the main talking point of the week — Kaka.
As Abba so neatly put it, "it's a rich man's world." This is definitely the case now when most of us have to question whether spending money to watch our team can be justified in the current financial climate.
Now we have a footballer being offered a salary that is so big it is borderline obscene. How many of us would say no, though? Is there any way back for football from here or has all sense of perspective finally disappeared from the game forever?
Will he or won’t he? The big talking point in the football world this week has been whether AC Milan’s Brazilian star Kaka will make the move to Manchester City. The size of the bid, a reported £100 million plus, illustrates the fact that City have overtaken Milan in the rich list by some way. I know the pound is about as strong as alcohol-free lager at the moment but that is still a huge amount of money to wave about.
Kaka and Milan clearly have some big decisions to make. Factors that the club may want to take into consideration is of course the vast sum of money on offer, the fact that their already star studded line-up sit comfortably in 3rd spot in Serie A, and that young forward Alexandre Pato is quickly developing into a world class player.
Kaka himself is not what many would consider the average footballer. I am not merely talking of his skill in that statement either. This is a man who points to the sky when scoring, wears an ‘I belong to Jesus’ tee-shirt below his Milan one, and leaves all major decisions in his life to God.
This fact was picked up this weekend by one Milan supporter at their game against Fiorentina at the San Siro who, rather unfairly, waved an ‘I belong to money’ banner at him. Kaka, it must be remembered, has been offered wages that dwarf anything previously dreamed of in the sport.
He could be swayed by the fact that he is actively involved in several charities and may feel that City’s spare cash could be put to good use. Kaka is also not a young man that came from the beaches and back streets of Brazil, unlike many of his footballing countrymen. His father is a wealthy man and will be actively involved in the decision-making process. Kaka speaks good English, and therefore has no language barrier to contend with.
The other consideration is a purely footballing one. Manchester City are a team who have not won a thing for many years. They are currently 15th in the Premiership. Quite clearly with the massive injection of cash that has come their way this will very likely change. It has to be said, however, that spending cash like some football managing computer game doesn’t necessarily result in a winning team.
When other players, such as their star turn, Brazilian striker Robinho who was signed in the summer, hear of the money being offered to Kaka, it may lead to discontent and resentment. Very probably City will just match the wage demands to keep their stars happy but will need a rapid turnaround in results.
They are currently on 25 points, 19 adrift from a Champions League spot. Today they have signed West Ham United’s much travelled Craig Bellamy. Clearly the money is there in bucket-loads to spend, and spend it they will but Kaka needs assurances that this team strengthening will happen, and soon.
As my wife eloquently pointed out, two masterpieces don't make a gallery.
With the best respect to City there is still an awful lot more kudos in playing for AC Milan at this moment in time. From Milan’s point of view the money is there on the table and it is highly unlikely that any other club in the world will ever be able to match it.
Personally I am not convinced that the deal will go through. Having said that, if the decision is made by the clubs, as it probably will be, then Kaka will be a City player by the end of January. Let’s face it, his agent isn’t going to sit around while his client "umms" and "errs" over the move. This one move will set that lucky person up for life.
If it was up to the player then I honestly believe that Kaka would want to remain in Milan and is quite content there — that is, before this offer came along. Not many of us would be able to say no to the sort of money being talked of. Spending it would be easier in the swanky shops of Milan, that's for sure! I only hope, for his sake, that he takes sound financial advice and doesn’t invest any of it in the UK High Street banks! Mind you, they need a rescue plan.
Even with Kaka, City are still a long way behind their neighbours, United. The club needs to build from the bottom up. Having said that, City will now be able to compete with United when promising youngsters are spotted locally.
It will be a long and difficult week for Kaka. The only loser will be AC Milan. Either they lose the player or, if he stays, their eagerness to take the cash may have damaged their relationship with their top star and their fans. Personally, if I was Kaka or anyone in his trust, I would want to know exactly who City have in their sights and what the likelihood is of actually signing them.
Let’s start then with Manchester City who beat Wigan at home 1-0 with a strike from Zabaleta, his first goal for the club. City had defender Richard Dunne dismissed making him joint top of the most sent off players in Premiership history.
Meanwhile United won 1-0 with an injury time goal by Berbatov at Bolton to go top ahead of Liverpool. It was a difficult afternoon for Harry Redknapp and Jermaine Defoe as they came up against their old club Portsmouth at White Hart Lane. It ended 1-1, with Defoe scoring from the edge of the box for Spurs.
In the London derby West Ham United beat Fulham 3-1. Fulham have, of late, tightened their defence to such an extent that they rarely leak goals. However three poor defensive lapses let the Hammers chalk up all three points. Ex-Hammer Paul Konchesky scored a truly sensational long range strike for Fulham but later blotted his copybook by giving away the penalty from which Noble made it 2-1. It proved decisive and another error allowed Carlton Cole to add to his impressive recent goalscoring run.
All of this was played under the watchful eyes of the late Bobby Moore, whose image adorns one corner of the ground. The legendary defender played for both West Ham and Fulham.
Ex-Newcastle United manager, Sam Allardyce, must have enjoyed his new teams 3-0 home win against the side that sacked him last year. All three goals came in a second half that saw Newcastle’s Nicky Butt sent off.
Chelsea left it very late again at home to Stoke City who were leading 1-0 with only minutes left. Goals in the 88th and 90th minutes, the second from Frank Lampard celebrating his 400th Chelsea appearance, earned them the victory.
Arsenal won 3-1 at freefalling Hull City. Aston Villa won 2-1 at Sunderland, and West Bromwich Albion gained three valuable points beating troubled Middlesbrough 3-0 at The Hawthorns.
Manchester United go top on 47, Liverpool are 2nd on 46, Chelsea 3rd on 45, Villa 4th on 44, three points ahead of Arsenal.
Liverpool host neighbours Everton this evening. This will leave Manchester United a game in hand which is at home to Fulham.
Aberdeen jumped into 3rd place with a late show at home to table topping Celtic. Two quick strikes by Zander Diamond gave Aberdeen all three pints in an impressive 4-2 victory. Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was left fuming, claiming that the all important third Aberdeen goal should not have stood.
Second placed Rangers beat Falkirk 3-1 to gain some ground. Dundee United who had started the day in 3rd spot surprisingly lost at home to Motherwell 0-4, having been three down at half time.
Celtic remain top on 51, Rangers have 49 but a better goal difference, and Aberdeen go 3rd on 36.
The action started again in Belgium with the ever more impressive Cercle Brugge moving up to 4th following a 2-1 win at table topping Anderlecht, both goals coming from Iachtchouk.
Neighbours Club Brugge beat Mechelen 3-0 to stay 3rd, three points ahead of Cercle, and three behind 2nd placed Standard Liege. Standard kept the pressure on Anderlecht by beating FC Dender 3-2. Elsewhere Germinal Beerschot Antwerp regained some form beating Racing Genk 4-1.
Anderlecht stay top on 38, Standard 2nd on 37, Club Brugge have 34, and Cercle Brugge have 31. At the bottom Roeselare, despite making a lot of signings in the transfer window, lost at Kortrijk and stay bottom on 10, five points behind Dender, RAEC Mons, and Tubize who all have 15.
Lyon stay top having won 2-0 at nearby Grenoble, with goals from Ederson and Delgado. Bordeaux stay just a point behind by beating Nantes away 2-1, with goals from two in form players Goucuff, and the impressive Chamakh.
PSG edged past Sochaux 2-1 in Paris, and Monaco let a 2-0 lead at Caen slip to draw 2-2. This result increases the pressure on under-fire Brazilian coach Ricardo. Marseille beat relegation threatened Le Havre 2-0, whilst Lille beat Rennes 1-0.
The battle of Le Banderole was won 2-0 by PSG in Paris on Wednesday evening. PSG will now play Bordeaux in the semi final of the Coupe de la Ligue whilst second division Vannes play first division Nice.
At the top AZ Alkmaar won 2-0 at bottom club Volendam. 2nd placed Ajax were in typically freescoring form beating NEC Nijmegen away 4-2, a game which saw Ajax’s Sulejmani score twice in six minutes. Twente Enschede are 3rd having beaten struggling Vitesse Arnhem 2-1.
AZ are top on 44, Ajax 2nd on 41, Twente 3rd on 37. Volendam stay rooted to the bottom on 11, four points behind Vitesse and Roda, both on 15.
Olympiacos stay top on 45 points having beaten Panseriakos away 1-0. PAOK Salonica stay 2nd, nine points behind on 36 following a 2-0 victory over Panthrakikos. Panathinaikos beat Aris Salonica 4-0, and AEK Athens won 1-0 at Iraklis.
The big talking point in Spain was the resignation of Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon following allegations of vote rigging in last months club election. His team ran out 3-1 winners at home to Osasuna, with Arjen Robben scoring again in injury time.
Leaders Barcelona swept aside Deporta La Coruna 5-0 at the Bernabau with two goals apiece from Henry, and Eto’o, and another from Messi. Elsewhere Almeria held Atletico Madrid 1-1 in a game that saw seven yellow cards and two red. Sevilla stay 3rd having beaten Numancia 1-0.
Barcelona are on 50 points with a huge plus 46 goal difference, ahead of Real Madrid on 38, and plus 14.
Inter manager Jose Mourinho looks a troubled man these days and certainly some of that charismatic spark seems to have vanished from the 'special one' as he watched his team's game this weekend at nearby Atalanta in Bergamo.
Inter found themselves torn to shreds and were 3-0 down after 33 minutes through goals from Floccari, and two from Doni. An injury time goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic came too late to make any difference and Atalanta won 3-1.
Meanwhile Kaka played for AC Milan at home to Fiorentina, winning 1-0 with a superbly taken shot by Pato, who cut in from the left before steering a shot into the far corner. David Beckham marked his San Siro debut in a Milan shirt by being booked.
Lazio and Juventus played out a 1-1 draw in Rome, whilst their neighbours AS Roma inflicted more damage on Torino, winning 1-0 in Turin. Torino are now 3rd bottom as their slide continues.
Palermo’s Bresciano looked pretty in pink scoring twice at Sampdoria in a 2-0 win. Chievo and Napoli went to war in a game that saw nine bookings and two sendings off. The other statistic from that game was that it ended 2-1 to Chievo.
Inter stay top despite that defeat and last weeks draw at home, with 43. 2nd placed Juventus have 40, AC Milan are on 37, two points ahead of Genoa who are on 35.
Thought For The Week
Can money buy success? A few years ago Blackburn Rovers spent heavily to win the Premiership. However as the funds dried up they were relegated soon after.
Chelsea of course have spent massively but have misfired of late despite still being in striking distance of another title. Can Manchester City regain their position among the top clubs by buying the likes of Kaka? And if so how much will it all actually cost?
One good thing is that the arrival of some highly paid footballers in Manchester could go a long way to rescuing the British economy and definitely help the car industry actually sell a few models.
So if Prime Minister Gordon Brown has run out of ideas maybe Manchester City can make a difference after all. I can't see them doing much else for a couple of years, with or without Kaka.
Watch out for more on Euroscore including Past Legend Raymond Kopa and the first part of the Old Firm series. Both will appear before the end of January. Also the round-up will continue every Monday right to the bitter end as the football season reaches its climax.