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Man City 'close' to Kaka signing

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Kaka underlines his credentials as the world's best player with a wonder goal for Brazil in a friendly against Argentina in 2006

Manchester City assistant manager Mark Bowen says Brazilian superstar Kaka is "very close" to a world record-breaking transfer from Italian giants AC Milan.

A City delegation has been in Italy and reportedly made a bid in the region of 100m for the midfielder.

The 26-year-old had earlier vowed to stay at the San Siro but Bowen told BBC Sport Wales: "We believe the deal is very close.

"We are selling the future plans of the club to the player."

Kaka's advisor Diogo Kotscho said the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year would be open to a move to Manchester City if Milan wanted to sell.

And Mark Hughes' right-hand-man Bowen revealed: "I've read a lot about his love of AC Milan - and that goes without saying - but even when people said the deal was dead, that was not our understanding.

"We are still hopeful of still signing Kaka.

"The situation has been a surprise to everyone but obviously negotiations have been going on for a fair while.

"How close we are I don't know but our understanding is that it is very much a strong possibility that Kaka will be coming to Manchester City."

Kaka's representative insists any move to Manchester City would be done for the right reasons and not just for the reported 500,000 a week wages.

"It is not impossible, if Milan let us talk, then we will see what City have to offer," Kotscho told BBC 5 Live.

"Kaka knows about the offer but the club did not give authorisation for talks, so we did not meet," said Kotscho.

"It was a great proposal but it's not about only money.

"We have to see if Manchester City have a project to become a Champions League team and become one of the top teams in the world, and to stay there long term."

"Kaka wouldn't do anything based on money," Kotscho earlier told Corriere dello Sport.

"He would never do something like Robinho, who, just to earn more, contented himself with a solution that was not a winning one."

Previously Kaka had told the website of Mediaset, a TV company owned by Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi how he wanted to stay at the club for life.

"I want to grow old at Milan," he said.

"I repeat what I have always said. Other clubs can make all the offers they want but it all depends on Milan.

"As I have said before, as long as Milan share my goals, I would like to stay here. Then if one day the club wants to sell me, than that would be a different matter altogether.

"My aim is to become at some point in the future the captain of this team."

With Paolo Maldini currently holding the AC Milan skipper's armband, Kaka added: "I know there is a hierarchy and Maldini and (Massimo) Ambrosini are before me, but after..."

Following early reports of the tabled bid on Wednesday, City refused to comment officially on the story.

A City spokeswoman told BBC Radio Manchester: "We have been linked with in excess of 70 names that could have been coming in this transfer window.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Paul Fletcher

"We are not going to be drawn into any speculation on any names, no matter who they might be."

AC Milan confirmed that their chief executive Adriano Galliani had met officials from City on Tuesday to discuss Kaka's future.

In a statement, the Serie A club said: "Galliani received a delegation from Manchester City yesterday in Milan as a gesture of courtesy like always in these cases. There are no talks at the moment."

The current record for a player's signature is 46m when France's Zinedine Zidane moved from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001.

Kaka joined Serie A giants Milan from Sao Paulo in 2003 and has since won the league title, Champions League and Club World Cup.

The attacking midfielder also picked up the Ballon d'Or and Fifa World Player of the Year awards in 2007.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, estimated to be worth 15bn, took over as City owner in September 2008 and extensive funds have been made available to manager Mark Hughes.

Every player has his price - Marcotti

However, he has only secured the services of Wayne Bridge in January's transfer window, with bids rejected for West Ham forward Craig Bellamy and Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz.

The four-man delegation that travelled to Italy to initiate talks with the Milan officials is believed to have included executive chairman Garry Cook and two representatives of the Sheikh.

BBC Radio 5 Live's senior football reporter Ian Dennis says the move underlines Sheikh Mansour's "desire to transform Manchester City", although he added "actually pulling off what would be an incredible coup is another matter entirely".

With the club struggling in 15th position in the Premier League, it would give City an incredible boost if they were to seal the deal for one of the world's best players.

However, it is thought the move to target Kaka is being driven by the club's top officials rather than Hughes himself.

RECORD TRANSFERS
47m Zinedine Zidane (Juventus - Real Madrid)
37m Luis Figo (Barcelona - Real Madrid)
34m Hernan Jorge Crespo (Parma - Lazio)
32.5m Robinho (Real Madrid - Man City)
31m Christian Vieri (Lazio - Inter Milan)
30.75m Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham - Manchester United)

Having started his career with Sao Paulo where he scored 58 goals, Kaka moved to Milan for 5m and has scored 86 goals in 244 appearances.

He has also picked up 62 caps for Brazil and scored 23 goals having made his debut against Bolivia in January 2002 and featured in the 2002 World Cup winning squad.

Kaka is on a contract at the San Siro until 2013 and although he stated last February that he wanted to remain at Milan for the rest of his career, he did hint at a desire to play in the Premier League - which he has described as the "best championship in the world".

Following Robinho's surprise 32.5 move to Eastlands in September and not, as expected, to Chelsea, Kaka's spokesman Diogo Kotscho warned City it would need more than a large cheque to persuade the player to move.

Italian football expert Gabrielle Marcotti told BBC Radio 5 Live he believed the City delegation had begun conversations with Milan representatives talking about signing goalkeeper Nelson Dida.

"As I understand it, they went to Milan supposedly under the ruse of talking about another player and in the course of the conversation they brought up Kaka and said they would be prepared to spend this much," Marcotti said.

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see also
Wednesday's gossip column
14 Jan 09 |  Gossip
Kaka wins 2007 award
01 Dec 08 |  Football
Chelsea warned off Milan's Kaka
13 Jun 08 |  Chelsea
Kaka wins Fifa world player crown
17 Dec 07 |  Football
Kaka named Europe's best player
02 Dec 07 |  Football
Kaka wins world players' accolade
05 Oct 07 |  Football


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