AC Milan star Kaka's future appeared to be leaning toward Real Madrid on Wednesday after Chelsea denied it made any attempt to hijack a euro 65 million ($92 million) deal tabled by the Spanish powerhouse.
Milan vice president Adriano Galliani was in Madrid late on Tuesday to finalize the deal, along with Kaka's father-manager Bosco Leite, Italian sports dailies La Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport reported on Wednesday.
After four hours of meetings with Madrid president Florentino Perez, a deal was reached in which Kaka would get euro9.5 million ($13.5 million) a season for five years, Gazzetta said. Reports soon emerged suggesting that Chelsea had countered Madrid's offer by bidding 73.5 million pounds (euro 85 million; $120 million) while offering him 10 million pounds (euro 11.6 million; $16.4 million) per year in wages after tax.
The English Premier League club, which just hired Kaka's former Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, said on Wednesday "it had never made an offer to AC Milan for Kaka" and that "any reports to the contrary are totally untrue."
Perez welcomed Chelsea's announcement, suggesting it was just a matter of time before the Brazilian became the first "galactico" signing of his second era. Perez said no money had exchanged hands _ yet.
"The problem isn't the unveiling of Kaka, the problem is whether we are able to get him here playing for Real Madrid," Perez told Spain's Antena 3 TV station. "This statement is an advantage. If Chelsea isn't competing that's an advantage. We have very good relations with Milan ... which would facilitate any deal. On top of that, the player has expressed a desire to play here." The rumors over Kaka's sale intensified on Tuesday with Galliani in Madrid to attend a dinner honoring Perez.
"There is still no decision," Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Premier, told ANSA news agency. "On Monday I will meet Kaka and then I will let you know."
About 30 fans protested Kaka's possible transfer outside Milan's downtown offices, in a scene similar to when the Brazilian was considering going to Manchester City. Police kept watch, according to ANSA.
Kaka flew home on Monday to Brazil to join the national team for World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup.
Before leaving, however, he insisted he was happy in Milan. "I want to stay with Milan and from today this issue is over," Kaka said in Gazzetta on Tuesday. "I will say it for the last time, the last time. I don't want to leave Milan."
Perez, who took over on Monday, also announced for the first time that Madrid would be looking to land Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.
"What would be very good is if these great players were at Real Madrid this season. Cristiano would be one of them," Perez said. "I'm going to work so that Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo can be with Real Madrid."
Berlusconi conceded he didn't think he could keep the Brazil midfielder.
"I don't think we can keep him back because they're offering so much money," he said on Tuesday.
Kaka was also the subject of a failed record bid by City in January that would have made him the best-paid player in football, but he turned down the move saying he chose Milan over money. Perez instituted the "galactico" policy of signing the game's biggest stars during his first tenure with the club, and has pledged a similar approach to the transfer market this offseason. Kaka's Milan teammates seemed resigned to seeing the 2007 world player of the year leave.
"I want to wait until it becomes official, but of course it greatly upsets me," Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said from Italy's training camp. "Kaka is not just any old player. Someone who helps you win is leaving."