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Kaká set to lose No. 8 shirt at Real Madrid

Jul 8, 2013, 10:06 PM EDT

Real Betis Balompie v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

If he doesn’t take this hint, soon he’ll find his locker next to the janitor’s closet. Then his team car will be repossessed. Then his apartment will be replaced by a mobile home that’s driven to the Madrid airport while he and his wife are asleep. This is just a more subtle if completely obvious sign Kaká should move on from Real Madrid.

According to reports out of Spain, Kaká’s eight shirt — the one he’s worn since his arrival from AC Milan four years ago — has been put aside for a new, 23-year-old midfielder. Asier Illarramendi may have been a part of Spain’s European U-21 title-winners this summer and a regular contributor to a Real Sociedad team that claimed Spain’s last Champions League spot this season, but he’s no former Balon d’Or winner. He’s doesn’t have a Champions League medal, nor has he won a World Cup, and while shirt numbers may be the only thing less meaningless than formal transfer requests, some athletes can become attached to them. Whether Kaká is attached to his or not, having the eight shirt taken from him could be seen as a slap in the face.

Another way of putting it, according to Marca:

… Real has decided on a number for Asier Illarramendi, who is on the brink of becoming a ‘Los Blancos’ player.

Illarramendi donned the number 8 last season with Real Sociedad, and Real Madrid hopes that the European Under-21 champion can continue to wear the same number next season, provided that Ricardo Kaká’s departure from the club is confirmed. This is yet more evidence that Kaká does not form part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans for the future.

So perhaps Kaká won’t be changing next to the janitor after all, but the note about Ancelotti’s particularly interesting. The new Real Madrid boss make Kaká the focal point of Milan’s last Champions League-winning side, so you’d assume there’s some loyalty there. But loyalty can only go so far, particularly in a team that has Mesut Ozil, Luka Modric, and the recently-signed Isco.

On one level, you’d hope Kaká would get a more appreciative departure, but he’s had opportunities to leave during the last two years. Instead, he’s elected to stay, and while he still has two years on his deal, the club may be ready to move on, whether he wants to or not.

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