ORLANDO, Flirida — Kaka has signed a contract to be Orlando City’s first designated player and is set to fly to Orlando on Monday.
The Brazilian soccer star finalized the contract in the last few days, opting out of his deal with AC Milan and agreeing to a six-month loan with his home club, Sao Paulo. He will join Orlando City for preseason training in January.
Kaka is getting on a plane in Brazil on Monday morning and is expected to arrive at Orlando International Airport at 6:15 p.m., according to a source with direct knowledge of the agreement.
Orlando City will announce the arrival of the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner on Monday, encouraging fans to greet Kaka at the airport.
The Lions will formally announced the signing of Kaka at a press conference on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The Brazilian will also be introduced to fans at the club’s official watch party of the U.S. national team’s Round of 16 game against Belgium on Tuesday afternoon. Kickoff for the U.S. game is at 4 p.m. EDT
Kaka, a 32-year-old attacking midfielder who was once considered the best player in the world, immediately becomes one of the top players in Major League Soccer, and the centerpiece of the Lions’ team.
Kaka won a World Cup with Brazil in 2002, and has won numerous club trophies during a career that has taken him from AC Milan to Real Madrid in Spain’s La Liga and back to Milan this season.
The Brazilian, also known as Ricardo Kaka, joined AC Milan from São Paulo in 2003 for a fee of 8.5 million Euros, then departed for Real Madrid in 2009 for a transfer fee of 65 million Euros – what was then the second-highest fee of all time.
Kaka struggled during his time in Spain, making fewer than 100 league appearances in four years, and returned to AC Milan this season. Kaká had seven goals with four assists in 30 Serie A appearances this season.
AC Milan wanted Kaká to return for the final year of his contract, but Kaká was able to opt out with the Italian giant because the club did not qualify for European play. Milan finished eighth in Serie A.
The club said earlier this month it was in “advanced discussions” with the midfielder, and Orlando City president Phil Rawlins spoke to the Sentinel about the deal.
“When we first launched, we said we wanted to bring Major League Soccer to Central Florida, and as we got closer to meeting that, the next big statement we made was that in doing that we wanted to make sure we brought a Brazilian superstar,” Rawlins said on June 20. “Everyone knows our first choice would be Kaka. … We’re reaching a critical time in the next few days. We are in detailed discussions with him. We hope that those would conclude successfully in the next few days, and if they do, then he’ll be our first designated player. … We’re just very, very excited about that prospect.”