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Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009

PREMIER REPORT

Kaka-Bellamy tandem had unique potential


LONDON — The main sadness about Kaka not joining Manchester City is that there will almost certainly never be a conversation between the AC Milan maestro and Craig Bellamy, who signed from West Ham for £16 million.

Christopher Davies

It would have been a great meeting of the minds.

Kaka, a deeply religious boy from Brazil who was proud to be a virgin when he was married, gives 10 percent of his earnings to charity, has an exemplary disciplinary record and does not swear.

Then there is Bellamy, of whom former Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson said: "He could start a fight in an empty room."

The Wales captain, who would win an Olympic snarling gold medal, once threw a chair at Newcastle coach John Carver, and attacked his Liverpool teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club (there is more but I have space limitations).

What Bellamy did not do was to send an abusive text to Alan Shearer a few years ago, no siree. True, a less than flattering message was sent to Shearer from Bellamy's cell phone (the pair were not on each other's Christmas card lists), but apparently his phone had been stolen at the time so it could not have been the Welsh international, could it? Yes, it would have been fascinating to be a fly on the dressing room wall when Bellamy met Kaka — though if opposites do, indeed, attract then they would have been best buddies.

Bellamy has undoubted skill, but this is matched by an ability to alienate just about anyone and everyone he works with.

Does the baggage outweigh the goal potential?

A month ago, as a West Ham player, Bellamy said: "I'm very happy here. I like London a lot. I'll never go in and ask for a move. Manchester City came in for me in August. I spoke to Curbs [manager Alan Curbishley] who said 'there is no way you are going' and I had no problem with that. I was injured much of last season and wanted to show the fans what I could do and repay the club."

Last week Bellamy was not only reported to have asked for a transfer, he said he wanted to join Tottenham. Oh well . . .

When Bellamy signed on the dotted line at Eastlands, City manager Mark Hughes spoke of the player's superb attitude for training.

Hughes, as a former Wales manager knows Bellamy from the international scene but maybe he should have waited a while before making such a statement.

This is, after all, the same Craig Bellamy who a few days previously had stormed out of a West Ham training session and threatened to go on strike.

In the end all parties were happy. Bellamy got his move, West Ham made a profit of £7 million in 18 months and City, which failed to sign a Christian, acquired a striker with the devil in him.

Bellamy is 29, and City is his eighth club in nine years, so he has averaged just over a year with each team. Make what you will of that stat.

Is he value for money?

Injuries have restricted his appearances (16 league outings for West Ham in 18 months), while a career 68 yellow cards and three reds underline the Bellamy temper.

More impressive is the 100 league goals he has scored for his various clubs.

Last season he played 12 times for West Ham, scoring six goals and was cautioned on three occasions — a good reflection of what Bellamy is all about.

* * * * *

MANCHESTER CITY executive chairman Garry Cook claimed that AC Milan "bottled" out of the Kaka transfer, yet there was an element of naivete about the way the club conducted the deal.

While approaching a player under contract to another club without permission is not allowed, in the real world of Planet Football discreet soundings are usually made, testing the water.

To avoid a high-profile rejection, a manager or player is contacted by a third party . . . if so-and-so came in for you would you be interested?

True, it's against regulations, but it goes on in most industries, so you only make an offer that you know will be accepted.

Well, most of the time.

Clarence Seedorf, the Milan midfielder who is one of football's most intelligent and eloquent talkers, said Kaka's decision not to sign with City was "logical and the best choice for him."

Seedorf believed the impression that the Brazilian could suddenly have improved City was misguided.

Christopher Davies covers the Premier League for the London Daily Telegraph.


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