AC Milan president and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has ended transfer speculation surrounding Kaka by telling a TV programme on Monday that the 26-year-old Brazilian will be staying at Milan.
The former FIFA World Player of the Year had been the subject of a reported €100 million bid from mega-rich Manchester City in a transfer saga that had been picking up pace over the last week.
Berlusconi said last week that with the money on offer he could not force Kaka to stay if he wanted to leave. But he seems to have changed his mind and claimed on Monday that he had intervened personally to ensure the fans' favourite will be staying in Italy.
"Both I and he (Kaka) have intervened," said Berlusconi. "When I heard him say that he prefers to stay, that he doesn't feel like he has lost the opportunity to earn a higher salary and that he feels privileged to wear the shirt, he values the closeness and the friendships, the heat and affection that all the fans have shown him even in these last two days, I said 'hallelujah' and we hugged," he told '7 Gold'. "Kaka is staying at Milan."
However, Berlusconi then opened up a little doubt. "I give my word on the things that depend on me. At the end of this affair I don't know if I will still be president of Milan, as much as I am not any more," he said cryptically before seeming to settle the matter once again. "He has taken himself off the market with this decision to stay loyal to the contract he has with Milan. A contract signed on a piece of paper with a stamp but now we can say with certitude that it was signed with the heart."
He added in an interview with Sky Sport 24: "That's the end of the story. I am truly delighted to have kept Kaka at Milan. Kaka is a great champion and a great man. He's refused the offer from Manchester City giving privilege to Milan, his companions and his fans.
"He said it's because money isn't everything in life. Kaka is staying with us and we're delighted. Money is important but there are also other things that are important. The fans are delighted too. Turning down so much money is something to admire."
The English club also confirmed on its website that the affair was at an end. "Manchester City has terminated its discussions with AC Milan over the possible transfer of the player Kaka," read a statement.
"Following a meeting in Milan today, the Club felt that it was unlikely that the two parties could reach common ground for an agreement. The discussions reached only a preliminary stage and the player was not involved at any time. No commercial terms were framed."
City chief executive said that while it would be fantastic to attract players of Kaka's quality the transfer had to be a good all round deal. "Whilst Manchester City Football Club has an obvious interest in world class players of the quality of Kaka, we owe it to our fans that such a transfer must work on every level; commercially, financially, in terms of results on the field and within Manchester City's broader community," said Cook.
Earlier in the day Milan fans had held a vigil outside his home begging Kaka to stay at their club. They only went home late on Monday after their idol acknowledged them from his window for the second time.
Fans began their protest against Kaka's proposed €100 million transfer to mega-rich Manchester City outside Milan's headquarters during the early evening before heading off to the exclusive compound where he lives. They stayed there chanting songs about him and pleading with him not to leave until finally being satisfied the second time he waved at them.
City's owners the Abu Dhabi Group had made the former World Player of the Year their primary transfer target during the January window and reportedly tempted Milan with what would have been a world record fee for a player. Milan initially claimed that they had not accepted City's bid but would not stand in his way if he chose to leave.
The club's fans, however, took a completely different approach and begged him to stay. In the morning dozens of fans left letters with the caretaker at Kaka's gated compound, a former palace.
"Our letter was one page long in which we wrote from the heart to remind him what he represents for us and to ask him to stay here," said 20-year-old Niccolo, a Milan fan who was part of an early campaign outside Kaka's home.
Kaka's father and agent Bosco Leite had arrived in Milan from Brazil in mid-morning before meeting with his son, according to Italian news agency Ansa, who said that Berlusconi and club vice-president Adriano Galliani met for an hour and a half to discuss his possible departure.