Brazilian legend set to come in for wantaway winger

MANCHESTER UNITED will target Brazilian superstar Kaka to replace Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sir Alex Ferguson will put a spectacular £70million plan in place when - not if - the Portuguese winger demands a summer move to Real Madrid.

Despite the denials, there has been a growing suspicion within United that 24-year-old Ronaldo will force a move to the Bernabeu after setting his heart on the switch.

United would use the world record fee to try to lure Kaka, along with Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery as tney.

Kaka, who turns 27 this week, committed himself to the San Siro when Manchester City failed in their £100m bid for the striker.

Footballing reasons were behind his rejection of a world record deal but United are more in tune with his on-field ambitions.

Fergie, who has admired Kaka for years but previously thought him way out of his price range, also knows there is no better time to try to lure him to Old Trafford.

In what may turn out to be a sweet irony for the United boss, the potential influx of funds from Ronaldo's sale may not have come at a better time.


AC Milan are in need of massive rebuilding job and are expected to lose manager Carlo Ancelloti to Chelsea at the end of the season. They've failed to challenge for the Italian title again and didn't even qualify for this year's Champions League.

Kaka has regularly shown his frustration and expressed fears about the club's future unless they recruit more young talent. He even asked for Milan to bid for Liverpool Steven Gerrard this week, a player they have no chance of signing.

Fergie will have observed such signs of unrest and, in contrast to his city rivals, will be confident he can persuade Kaka to revive his career in England.

As well as Kaka, United are expected to bid for Ribery, while Wigan's Antonio Valencia is already seen as a 'done deal,' with on-loan Spurs striker Fraizer Campbell likely to head to the JJB as a makeweight in the transfer.

A move for Kaka would also spell the end of Carlos Tevez's fading hopes of a permanent United deal.

But it's the Ronaldo conundrum which is dominating the United boss's pre-season considerations, forcing him to formulate a transfer strategy on the assumption he may leave.

Fergie has maintained since Real first made their move he has no intention of allowing Ronaldo join the Spanish giants who he said 'he wouldn't sell a virus' earlier in the season but he's also mindful of the possibility the player can eventually force the issue.

But the talk of the Old Trafford dressing room is that Ronaldo has already made his mind up and will quit for Spain in the summer.

A source close to many of the United players said: "It's an open secret Ronaldo is off. He's made it clear he's done the year United asked him to do after Madrid's offer last summer and that he's off at the end of the season.

"The United players know it and probably Fergie accepts it. Now it's just a question of sorting the deal out."

If Ronaldo asks to go, even the all-conquering United boss will be powerless. A back-up plan is essential to ensure the champions have suitable replacements and there's no way Fergie will let his young winger leave him in the lurch.

The Ronaldo issue has also become a growing source of resentment within United's dressing room, with many of his team-mates tiring of the constant speculation.

It has been felt for some months the winger has his heart set on a move and although he's continued to contribute massively to the incredible quintet effort - not least with the winner in Porto in midweek - it has never dampened suspicions he'll move on.

The Old Trafford faithful haven't been enamoured by his flirtation with La Liga and the first public signs of a growing unease were apparent last weekend when Ferguson demanded Ronaldo stop sulking when decisions go against him.

When the Portuguese star struck the winner in midweek, his subdued, almost angry celebration appeared to be aimed directly towards the dug-out

Last year's double Footballer of the Year appears to be on the verge of making the all-too familiar mistake of believing United need him more than he needs United. If so, he would appear to have a surprisingly limited knowledge of United's recent history.

Ferguson's reign is peppered with examples of proving no-one is irreplaceable, regardless of their iconic status.

Whether it's Eric Cantona, Paul Ince, David Beckham or Roy Keane, Ferguson has continued to rebuild his squad after their departure to the point where their absence is barely noticed 12 months later.


If his audacious pursuit of Kaka comes off, Ronaldo will become the latest in a long line of players who've discovered United don't waste time licking their wounds when star players move on.

Somewhere in the depths of their manager's mind will be thoughts of next season and how to make a formidable squad even better. With or without Ronaldo, there's always another trophy to win, another player to attract and another team to rebuild for Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Real Madrid recruitment circus is preparing to roll back into town, but there's only one ringmaster in Manchester.

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