Manchester United's busy summer of transfer activity continues, with Ashley
Young completing his move from Aston Villa.
Phil Jones and Young have signed, and David De Gea is surely a United player
in all but name.
It is an impressive spree, and one that may well be enough to keep the
Premier League trophy at Old Trafford.
Young should provide Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez with a dependable supply of assists, especially from set pieces.
He is coming off the best season of his career, and has developed into a
player of real menace. He carries the ball at speed and, unlike Nani, makes
good decisions when delivering his final ball.
For all his assists last season, Nani too seldom chooses the right option -
one reason why he was dropped for much of the spring. Young is more disciplined and more reliable.
Jones is a fine ball-playing centre-back who may also see action as a
holding midfielder, especially if Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand stay fit.
De Gea is young, but already hugely accomplished, and appears to have the
physique and temperament to excel in the English game.
But will these newcomers help achieve Sir Alex Ferguson's ultimate aim -
dethroning Barcelona as Europe's best? I doubt it.
The gap between Barca and United at the Champions League final was overwhelming, and manifested itself most obviously in central midfield.
United need a player of towering ability to close the gap.
A central midfield of Giggs and Carrick will not do. Neither will Anderson
and Fletcher. Or, god forbid, Darron Gibson.
United have pursued Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder without success. The
Dutchman looks like a no-go, understandably given his importance to Inter.
Every player managed by Harry Redknapp has his price, but Chelsea can surely
outbid United for Modric if they put their minds to it.
So why not think big and go for Kaka?
You know the guy - God-fearing Ballon d'Or winner. Sometime greatest player
in the world. Moved to Real Madrid for £50m-odd. Mystifyingly consigned to the
bench by Jose Mourinho. He was the one looking on wistfully as Barca knocked
Real out of the Champions League.
Kaka has insisted he wants to stay at the Bernabeu, but he cannot have
enjoyed being shoved to the sidelines by Cristiano Ronaldo and friends.
Inter Milan have made a speculative bid and Chelsea have been linked with a
move for the great Brazilian, but the chatter has been remarkably quiet given
the quality of the player.
Where you would expect a clamour of interest, there is a murmur.
So much so that he was reportedly being peddled
to Santos in part-exchange for Neymar earlier this week.
I don't know if that story is true, but the fact that somebody even saw fit
to write it tells you all is not right in the world of Ricardo Izecson dos
But honestly, why wouldn't you go for him?
The downside: he's 29, he earns a fortune, he's had some injuries, and Jose
Mourinho - not a bad judge of talent - doesn't like him for some reason.
Kaka's age is a particular concern given Brazilian players' tendency to
decline relatively early.
But we are talking about Kaka here - he is not Ronaldo, whose body was wrecked
by injuries, or Ronaldinho, whose hard living caused his star to wane in his
Kaka lives an almost irritatingly clean existence, and he started playing
professionally at a sensible age (he was nearly 19) so he does not have too many
miles on the clock.
Surely the benefits of Kaka are too great to ignore. You get perhaps the
best attacking midfielder since Zinedine Zidane - a player of balance, vision,
grace and goals, who doesn't mind getting stuck in.
He and United are surely a perfect fit - even if for a limited time. He
offers United a deluxe Paul Scholes replacement in a midfield desperate for
And United give him a chance to restore his reputation among the world's
best, and to stop his career petering sadly out.
For all their failings, the Glazers are not afraid of a risk (how do you
think United got into their financial hole in the first place?) and would probably
find the cash if Fergie asked them for it.
But Real Madrid have not received an irresistible offer from United or
anyone else, and Kaka may well find himself continuing to warm the expensive
rally seats at the Bernabeu next season.