$94 Million Just Ain't What It Used To Be

The world's financial oblivion has affected some sports clubs worse than others. Perhaps Real Madrid giving AC Milan $94 million to take their best player will clue you in on who the haves and have nots are.

Madrid's transfer payment for Brazilian superstar Kaka (yes, I know) is believed to be a world record and one that will keep Milan in business for at least a little while longer. The gist of the story seems to be that Milan—which is owned by Italy's billionaire prime minister—is hurting financially, so Kaka humbly agreed to take a large contract with a free-spending club to help his previous team. What a trouper. I guess even billionaire prime ministers have bad decades.

Meanwhile, Madrid can apparently afford to spend money like a drunken sailor. Their new president, Florentino Perez, is actually the old one who built Madrid into a powerhouse in the early aughts by buying the world's best talent. If they're ever going to catch Barcelona, trying that strategy again seems as good a plan as any.

Perhaps someone with a more secure grasp of international sports could explain why U.S. sports don't try this transfer fee stuff. When teams like Milwaukee and Oakland and Minnesota watch their best players waltz away for big bucks contracts (or maybe get pennies on the dollar in a trade), would it help if Boston and New York had to dump big piles of cash on their old desks to take the talent? Or would it just give the small teams even more incentive to hoard money and stay terrible? The agents would certainly love to get in on that action. What's one little illegally restricted labor market between friends?

Kaká Ends Soap Opera and Moves to Real [NY Times]
Spanish Inquisition: Can Kaka Really Be The New Zidane At Real Madrid? [Goal]
Cristiano Ronaldo next on Real Madrid's shopping list [ESPN]