Kaká’s future is probably Orlando City’s biggest off-season question mark. The midfielder said in an interview to Brazilian TV show Esporte Espetacular last weekend that he considers three options for 2018 — re-signing with Orlando City, returning to Brazil, or ending his career — and expects to announce his decision soon.
Each alternative has its own specifics and it’s hard to envision what Kaká considers more important at this moment of his career. Let’s walk through the three scenarios and understand where the Brazilian stands now.
Stay in Orlando
Kaká has already said publicly that he wants to stay in Orlando and the club also expressed interest in keeping the captain on the roster. What makes the deal complicated are the economic factors related to it.
The Brazilian earns the biggest salary in MLS at over $7.1 million per year, and the consensus is that if he is to return it should be for way less money. Orlando City fans would be pleased if the club could keep him in a non-Designated Player deal, but for that to happen he would have to take a 90% pay cut, which may not be realistic.
However, the feeling of not taking the Lions to the playoffs in his three years with the club may touch Kaká and make him give it one more try, now on a much cheaper deal.
Return to Brazil
If Kaká chooses to return to Brazil, it will definitely be to play for São Paulo, the club where he started his career and where he played on loan before joining Orlando City in the second half of 2014. The midfielder is beloved by São Paulo’s fan base and would be welcomed back with open arms to end his career there.
The club’s moment can play a big factor, though, as São Paulo is fighting against relegation in the Brazilian first division. If the club fails to avoid it, its finances will be severely impacted, putting São Paulo in a position where the club would not be able to offer a huge contract to Kaká.
At the same time, the disaster could present the perfect situation for the Brazilian to return home and end his career bringing his beloved club back to Brazil’s first division.
At 35, Kaká knows the end of his career is close. In the interview with Esporte Espetacular, he admitted that his body is struggling this season and that he’s been through considerable pain. The midfielder was quoted saying that playing soccer “is more of a work demand than a pleasure now.”
Kaká said he doesn’t know exactly what he’ll do after the end of his professional career, but he plans on taking a year off before deciding it. He even mentioned Zinedine Zidane as a good example of a former player who approached his future career step by step.
If that’s the case, the Brazilian can enjoy the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a fan and then decide what to do. If he wants to remain in soccer, it’s fair to say that both Orlando City and São Paulo would be willing to welcome him in whatever role he decides to play.
Kaká is one of the most accomplished players of recent decades and his prestigious career and super-professional profile give him a wide array of options even in a late stage of his career. We will probably know which one he will follow soon. What is your guess?