Could be Madara already made Akatsuki. Nagato and co had their own separate group. Once Nagato's group started to pick up more followers, Madara noticed him and his rinnegan. He makes a deal with Nagato to offer help from his organization if he will use the rinnegan for him. Nagato's group becomes real members when Yahiko dies. They simply kept the cloaks so everyone would believe Pain was the leader.
Madara started the akatsuki, and used Nagato as a "leader" of akatsuki.
It was some kind of cover, in that time Madara/Tobi was hiding in the shadows gathering everything he needs for his plan
Madara started Akatsuki...who knows when.
He approached Nagato probably a little bit before Yahiko died i believe.
I think this b/c i believe Madara was the one who told Nagato about that technique he used after Yahiko was killed.
I don't see how Nagato would have known about a technique like that on his own, only a master of techs like Madara would know.
Could be wrong, but i don't think i am.
I think Yahiko dying was Nagato's last "Pain" before he decided to officially teamup with Madara, he had seen enough and felt enough pain and after using that tech, he knew Madara knew his stuff and was a good person to align with.
itachi told sasuke that madara started it after he got his ass kicked by the first hokage.but im thinking it might have been after the attack on konoha,because why use the nine-tails if he had an army of ten men or so?
I think is obvious that Itachi was lying, just to make Madara Sasuke's target. If Itachi told the truth to Sasuke, then Tobi lied about everything and his story was confirmed by Danzou.
So Itachi lied, I believe that Nagato was who actually formed Akatsuki, there's reference about a famous organization being led by them, even to the point of Danzou and Hanzou forming an alliance to stop them from becoming a even greater threat.
The only character who have claimed the role of leader and even recognized by all the characters as the leader of Akatsuki is "Pain". I think pain and tobi relationship was partnership that both were eager to break.
After reading the chapter several times today, is not like Madara created Akasuki before killing the nine tails, he just sharing details with Sasuke, which could be all lies, if we believe Madara or if we believe Itachi Madara lied.
For me, Nagato and Konan with his 6 Pains started a "Group". But they had different ideas from Madara at the begining
After Pain defeated Hanzou, and Tobi attacks Konoha with the Kyubi and was stopped by the Fourth, Then Tobi/Madara goes with Nagato and tells him about the idea of Hunting Bijuus for a greater power and form "Akatsuki" with Pain as its Leader and Madara in the Shadows..
If Madara really founded Akatsuki, then I can't understand why he was a Zetsu's subordinate prior the Sasori's defeat. This just can't make sense. Not only that, but considering half of Akatsuki already knew his true identity, this little show of him was just a crazy thing.
IMO, at the initial concept, Kishi wanted to use Pain as the true leader, the megaboss of Akatsuki. but as the time has passed, he thought about Madara and etc, incorporating him in the plot, and make him another leader. This is the only plausible explanation that I can think of.
Wasn't he Sasori's "subordinate"? He had quite a few, including Kabuto.
Madara was smart enough to not wanna be the target of a mercenary group, what isn't there to understand about that?
The less people who know about it, even in Akatsuki, the better.
He's a genius.
Naaaah....Madara/Tobi founded "akatsuki".
Then found pain, made him the leader because of his power, desire and knowledge and leading abilites.
Probably it was Pain and espacially Konans Idea how to dress the members, I mean, Pain was responsbile for the whole thing....but the dress code appears to me as Nagato asked Konan for design tipps I guess
By the way, I'm sirious about this.
The name akatsuki could have been already an idea of tobi or Nagato/Konan...after they entered.
But Pain clearly stated while he was fighting Naruto that he created Akatsuki in order to collect Bijuus and bring peace.
I think Yahiko founded Akatsuki and Madara has been their benefactor from behind the scenes.
Madara probably had a group called Akatsuki during his 80 or so years of hiding, but since Nagato had a group that seemed to fall apart after Yahiko's death, I think you'll find that the current Akatsuki is a union of Madara's group and Nagato's group he had.
So in the end I imagine they co-founded it and worked together since they had similar goals, though Madara being old and incredibly experienced I suppose Nagato considered him as his "senior" which is why he was the leader above Pain.