MONEYBAGS English Premier League club Manchester City have stunned world football by making a bid for a player that, if accepted, will more than double the world record transfer fee.
The record is currently held by Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, who moved from Italian club Juventus to Spanish giants Real Madrid for £46 million in 2001.
Now Manchester City, purchased by a consortium from the oil-rich Emirate of Abu Dhabi last September, have offered AC Milan £108 million ($150 million) for their Brazilian striker Kaka.
City have spent most of the last 130 years living in the shadow of their more glamorous neighbors Manchester United. But no longer.
They signaled their intention to compete with the big boys by paying £32.5 million for another Brazilian, Robinho, last year.
And now that the transfer window has reopened, they are determined to prove that every player has a price by luring Kaka from a club standing third in Italy’s Serie A to one lying 15th in the Barclays Premier League and fighting against relegation.
The early indications were that both AC Milan and the player himself would reject City’s overtures.
Now, it seems that even a club of Milan’s stature will be unable to turn down such a huge transfer fee and that Kaka will succumb to a net weekly wage of £255,000 (close to $400,000).
English club bids $150 million for Brazilian
To put the deal in perspective, compare it with baseball’s highest earners. The New York Yankees recently agreed to pay first baseman Mark Teixeira $180,000 million over eight years. That works out at $22.5 million a year or ($430,000 a week) BEFORE tax.
City have been champions of England two times, compared to United’s 17. They have never won the Premier League title while United have done so 10 times in the last 16 years.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, admitted to being “shocked and surprised” by the offer.
“I find it hard to get my head round this to be honest,” he said. “Football is football. From time to time you get shocks and surprises. But this is surprising everyone.”
Just as some Americans fear baseball is no longer a game for the average Joe, so some of those involved in English football fear for the future.
Steve Bruce, manager of Wigan and a former Manchester United captain, said: “The beauty of our game is that it means more to the average man in the street than anybody. I know the average man in the street now finds it very difficult to find £40-45 to go and watch a game.
“We are all staggered by the news. It is quite unbelievable when you are talking about a credit crunch throughout the world. But it just shows you what the Premier League is all about.
“I think this year people thought the situation with finances would be a little more sensible. But then along come the owners of Manchester City who want to have the best players in the world at their club.”
Only time will tell if City succeed in signing Kaka. If they don’t, there are plenty more fish in the ocean for them to catch.