Far from the 20,000 fans expected to welcome Kaka in the Bernabeu, most estimates today placed the number between almost 50,000 and up to 60,000 fans on hand to greet their new idol. Florentino Perez relentlessly tried to sign Kaka during his first tenure as Real Madrid president, but it wasn't until his second term and a worldwide economic collapse that AC Milan was ready to sell. He signed a six-year contract with the merengues.
Coming off of a strong performance in the Confederations Cup (enough to be the final's man of the match and receive the tournament's Golden Ball) Kaka arrives to Madrid having buried some of the doubts associated with his huge signing. At 27 Kaka's relevance on the world stage was called into question by many. Whether the reduced visibility of Milan in recent years, Milan surrounding him with slower, aging players, or his own dip in form, there was some sense that Kaka's best was past.
At his position, however, his prime may arguably be the next three years of his career, especially considering that pace has never been an integral part of his game. The undisputed leader of the Brazilian national side and AC Milan, Kaka is a born leader. The rare upper-middle class footballer, Kaka is a practicing evangelical who has stated that he will likely become a pastor after retiring from football. He shies away from the nightlife and has avoided the scandals and stereotypes that so often follow professional footballers, in particular Brazilians.
A consummate team player, Kaka is a distributor and creator above all else. At AC Milan he won a Serie A title, a Champions League (2007), two European Supercups, and one Club World Cup. Individually 2007 was, to date, his peak as an individual, when he won the FIFA World Player and the Golden Ball. That same year he was the Champions League's top goalscorer, and was named best the most valuable player of the Club World Cup. Questions remain if he will ever reach those heights again. Even in the event that he doesn't, Real Madrid has undoubtedly signed one of the world's top ten players in Kaka - especially in the notoriously difficult position to fill of creative midfielder.