Digão joined the Red Bulls in 2012 to provide depth at center back, but many believed the club had other intentions in the signing. Both the New York Post and Big Apple Soccer reported that Digão, whose full name is Rodrigo Izecson dos Santos Leite, was added to the team in an effort to recruit Kaka.
“We have spoken with Digão over the past couple of weeks and believe that this is the best resolution for all parties involved,” said Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh in a statement. “We want to wish Digão the best of luck in the next stage of his career.”
Kaka, a Brazilian star who currently plays for Real madrid, has an apartment in Manhattan and even Digão appeared to be fully aware of the rumors linking his brother to the Red Bulls. He told Goal in February that Kaka was intrigued by Major League Soccer.
"It's hard to say. Soccer changes very rapidly. It is a dream that he has, to come and play in the U.S., and hopefully it will come true soon," Digao told Goal through a translator.
"I think he's been very curious about soccer in the United States and New York and about my experience living here. I've been relaying good things to him. He's expressed his interest in one day playing in the United States."
It was speculated that Kaka could join New York as soon as this summer but that quickly changed when Real Madrid decided to hire Carlo Ancelotti as its new manager. Ancelotti and Kaka have a very strong relationship from their time together at AC Milan, where Kaka won the Ballon D'Or and World Player of the Year award in 2007. That factor along with Kaka's desire to play in next year's World Cup in his home country in Brazil, deterred the Red Bulls' chances of making a move.
Digão is now a free agent after stops at AC Milan, Standard Liege, U.S. Lecce, F.C. Crotone and Portuguese side F.C. Penafiel.