Only six rounds into the new La Liga season and already the rumor mills are spinning. One could say even spiraling out of control. Already Kaka is being rumored to be heading back to Milan on a loan deal and Ronaldinho being ousted to welcome back the golden boy.
Rumors are also running amok that Juventus are keen on securing the signature of ace front man Karim Benzema.
I think these rumors are just ridiculous as these are still new signings that are in their transition stages at the club, just settling into life in the city of Madrid but the media insists on always playing their “important” role in the day to day life of football.
Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (Kaká)
Let us take a look at the “unsuccessful” season Kaká was said to have. The word unsuccessful is a very intense and mildly inaccurate description of the season he had. Disappointing, is the more suitable word to sum up Kaká’s first season in Madrid.
Before we look at his first campaign in a new team, under a new coach and in a new country and plagued by a nagging groin injury; we will take a look at a few previous seasons at Milan from a statistical point of view.
In his first season as a Rossoneri, Kaká managed to haul 10 goals and 4 assists in 30 appearances in league for the red and blacks going on to make a further 4 appearances in the domestic cup and 10 appearances in the Champion’s League scoring 4 goals and providing 1 assist. In total he made 44 appearances for the Rossoneri, scoring a total of 14 goals and providing 5 assists. All in all a fairly good debut season for the 21 year old Brazilian.
In the subsequent season he followed up with a total of 50 appearances, 9 goals and 7 appearances; 36 appearances, 7 goals and 5 assists in league; 13 appearances, 2 goals and 2 assists in Europe and one appearance in the domestic cup. In large part, another good season for the Brazilian.
Fast forward to his last two seasons with the Rossoneri and we can say he had the same success with the team. In the 2007-08 season, Ricky made 30 appearances, scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists in league, 9 appearances in Europe scoring 3 goals and providing 2 assists. Hence, he made a total of 39 appearances, scoring 18 goals and creating 12 goals for his team. An excellent season from the attacking midfielder.
In his final season Kaka had yet another great season for the Rossoneri making a total of 35 appearances, scoring 16 goals and providing 10 assists. The breakdown: 31 appearances, 16 goals and 9 assists in league, 1 appearance in the domestic cup and 4 appearances in Europe, providing 1 assist.
On June 8, 2009 it was confirmed by both Real Madrid and AC Milan presidents that Kaká was indeed on his way to Spain’s Capital City. However, his arrival in the city did not go as well as most had hoped or even as Kaká himself had hoped. Instead he had a very disappointing season by his usual standards but for the most part a decent season for a player that was constantly plagued by a niggling groin injury that led to the huge debate last season; that Milan knew of his “incurable” ailment and it was the reason they were hasty to off load the player to Real. Despite the constant niggles, Kaká made 25 appearances in league, scoring 8 goals and providing 6 assists. He made one appearance in the domestic cup and 7 appearances in the Champion’s League, scoring 1 goal and providing 2 assists. A total of 33 appearances, 9 goals and 8 assists, similar numbers to his debut season with AC Milan.
Yes, disappointing for an established player such as Kaká but also a decent debut season for a player that was bothered by a persistent groin injury, acclimating to life in a new city, adjusting to new team mates, a new coach and adapting to a new style of play. Perhaps the media is reading into the situation far too much than needed. Kaká will be at his best as soon as he is fully recovered and acclimated to the new life. He should be given time! I hope Real Madrid will be patient with him and give him the opportunity to regain his best form.
Here is another player that was and still is adjusting. A person should take into account the many inhibitions that stood in Benzema’s way of being a success in his first season at Real Madrid. Firstly, it was the first time for the kid living outside of his home country on his own. Secondly, he had difficulty with the language barrier and thirdly, he had to adjust to a new coach, new teammates and a different style of play.
Looking at the statistics one would be inclined to say that Benzema had a largely disappointing season. However, avid followers of the club and the player would say that Benzema wasn’t given the chance to really shine. For the most part he was a substitute in most of Madrid’s games rather than a starter, only starting on the occasions when Higuaín was injured– a rare opportunity.
In Benzema’s first season at Lyon, the 17 year old made 5 appearances and provided 1 assist in league. His second season in the first team for the French giants ended with the youngster making 13 appearances, scoring 1 goal and making 1 assist in league, while he made a further 2 appearances in the domestic cup, scoring 2 goals and providing 1 assist. He also made 1 appearance in Europe scoring 1 goal. A total of 16 appearances, 5 goals scored and 2 assists made by the teenager.
Fast forward to his final two seasons in France and Benzema had his breakout year in the 2007-08 campaign after he managed 52 appearances, scoring 32 goals and provided 8 assists; the breakdown: 37 appearances, 20 goals and 7 assists in league. A further 9 appearances in the domestic cup scoring 8 goals and providing an assist. In Europe he made 7 appearances, scored 4 goals and provided 2 assists.
The subsequent season and his last season with Lyon, Benzema had another successful season. He made 36 appearances, scoring 17 goals and providing 2 assists in league, while he made 4 appearances in the domestic cup and scored 1 goal. In Europe he made 8 appearances, scored 5 goals and provided an assist that season. A total of 48 appearances, 23 goals and 3 assists.
His debut season for Spain’s Capital Club, “Big Benz” (as he’s affectionately called) made 27 appearances, scored 8 goals and made 3 assists in league, 1 appearance in the domestic cup and 8 appearances in Europe, scoring 5 goals and providing an assist. A total of 33 appearances, 9 goals and 4 assists.
Again, I must state he needs to be given time to adjust to the new life as well as given ample playing time to completely show his abilities. It is unfair to expect that the player can come in as a substitute with 10 minutes left and turn the game around! Karim Benzema deserves his chance at becoming a key player. However, I do not expect him to become an automatic starter especially when there is another striker on the field in optimum form. Had Benzema gone to a Manchester United, he would have had the same trouble breaking into the starting line-up, he would have to work his way in the line-up and make use of his chances when given the opportunity. It happened to Wayne Rooney, as it did to Cristiano Ronaldo and the same is happening to Javier ‘El Chicharito’ Hernández. The media, impatient fans and pundits alike are heaping all this unnecessary pressure onto the lad and isn’t giving him the time he needs to adjust. Benzema has an incredible work rate on his day and he is the type of player that if he isn’t scoring he is providing or trying to provide. He is still very young and it must be said as big a name he might have had upon being transferred to Madrid, he is still learning his trade.
Both Kaká and especially Benzema will don the white shirt for years to come and will prove to be an integral part of the squad as well they WILL write their names in the history book of Real Madrid.
Time is essential, nothing happens over night and people should remember that!