Still out after a month and he’s not feeling too cheerful. Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, commonly known as Kakà even by the kids in the Persian Gulf, tried hard to smile while visiting the Aspire Academy, a vast football training centre for promising 12 to 16 year-olds who dream of becoming football stars. Ricardo toured an astroturf pitch and gym, took a picture of the incredible pool and posed with everyone. However, it was an effort even in this context of juvenile exuberance. “What do you want me to say? I’ll speak when I’m back.”
When he’ll be back is precisely what’s not clear. He won’t be there on Sunday against Atalanta and there is growing discontent in the dressing room about how all these injuries have been managed. As far as Kakà is concerned, the diagnosis (a twisted metatarsal in his left foot) of the injury he suffered on 7 February has not changed, but the prognosis turned out to be a trifle optimistic. They said at least 15 days and before the derby it looked like he could try running and would soon completely recover. These were illusions. “I’m getting better,” said Kakà. “I’m training, but I still feel pain.”
It is difficult to predict when he’ll be play again. Then of course there is also Ronaldinho, who seems even more optimistic than Ricardo (“maybe I’ll make it for Sunday”), but it is hardly likely that Ancelotti will use him in a crucial game without some training first. Ronaldinho has not trained regularly for a month and only played against Bremen with the help of infiltration anaesthesia.
Not even the trip to the heat of Qatar has improved the mood of the A.C. Milan team, which has also been hit by Mourinho’s barbs: not officially acknowledged, but that have nevertheless left their mark. They range from, “he can talk because he’s top of the table so it’s best to bite my tongue,” to, ‘he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” The players and their coach are rather fed up, but the club’s line for now is: we are all united and concentrated on the need to secure third place. This will not be easy as long as Kakà is effectively in the sick-bay