Why Did Ricardo Kaka Struggle at Real Madrid?


Kaka’s Real Madrid career began in 2009 when he was acquired from AC Milan for a record-breaking fee of about €65 million. The Brazilian midfielder was anticipated to lead the team, who has been on a trophy drought in recent years, to achieve success.

Much like Bryce Young and Tyree Wilson are the top NFL expert picks in 2023 and are among the top stars in basketball, Kaka was one of the favourites in football during 2006-2009 until the unfortunate injury clouded his star career. 

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Coming back to Kaka, not everything went according to plan for the Brazilian legend. So, why did the former Ballon d’Or struggle at Real Madrid? Before discussing those factors, let’s look at Kaka’s time in Madrid.

A Peek into Kaka’s Real Madrid Tenure

Kaka got off to a good start with Real Madrid, scoring in his La Liga debut against Deportivo La Coruna. He scored crucial goals in big games, like the 2012 Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich or arch-rival Barcelona. In the 2011-2012 season, he also claimed the La Liga title with Real Madrid.

Kaka played at Real Madrid for four seasons, scoring 29 goals and supplying 32 assists in 120 appearances. Despite failing to live up to his record transfer fee, he was regarded as a critical player and fan favourite during his stint with the club.

Factors Which Led to Kaka’s Underwhelming Stint in Madrid

Several factors indicate that Kaka’s time at Real Madrid was underwhelming. These are:


Kaka was injured multiple times while at Real Madrid, limiting his playing time and preventing him from realising his full potential. He missed numerous games due to muscular issues, which hampered his ability to keep form and gain momentum.

Irregular Playtime

During Kaka’s tenure at Real Madrid, the club had a strong squad, which meant he had to battle for a starting spot with other top-tier players. With Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mesut Ozil contending for attacking spots, Kaka was frequently utilised as a substitute.

High Expectations

Real Madrid bought Kaka for a then-world-record transfer cost of €65 million, raising expectations for the team and the supporters. Sadly, Kaka failed to live up to these lofty standards. Moreover, the frequent benching and lack of starting opportunities did not help his game.

Final Thoughts

While he had some decisive moments at the club, he struggled to establish himself as a regular starter. He was ultimately sold back to AC Milan in 2013.

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