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Santos ready to welcome prodigal son

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Tim Vickery | 08:55 UK time, Friday, 29 January 2010

The figure of the idol, the big name star player, is much, much more important in Brazilian football than it is in England.

A quick example. When Adriano came back to Flamengo of Rio earlier this year he instantly put an extra 50,000 on the gate. A crowd of 18,351 had turned up for their previous home game, against Aval, but two weeks later, with Adriano in the team, 68,217 were there to watch the team against Atletico Paranaense.

"The emperor has returned," they sang in celebration - no-one wanted to remember that, in his first spell back in 2000/1 the chant had been very different - "Sell him!" In between he had become a big star, especially for his goals against Argentina, and that was all that mattered.

Similarly, most Santos fans will be so delighted to have Robinho back that the sulk act he pulled before leaving the club in 2005 will be forgotten.

Robinho and Roberto ManciniCity boss Roberto Mancini has decided he can manage without Robinho for the rest of the English season

As with Adriano, the bulk of Robinho's wages will not be paid by the club. A pool of sponsors has been brought together - Santos president Luis Alvaro Ribeiro delightfully spoke of "more than two companies, but less than five" and this type of arragement is becoming increasingly popular in Brazilian football.

The recent gain in strength of the Brazilian currency is making these deals more viable; Brazil's clubs are becoming more professional in their marketing operations, and then there is a desire to come home from players either at the end of their career or those, such as Adriano, Fred and Robinho, who have run into personal problems or who seem unwilling to knuckle down to the discipline of European football.

Before he became coach of Brazil, Dunga reflected on the importance of crossing the Atlantic in his career: "Our press like to say that Brazilian players move abroad to develop in a tactical sense. But in truth they go to Europe to learn individual and collective responsibility.

"In Brazil, any player who is a little better thinks he can get away with more than the others and behaves irresponsibly, including on the field. And the coach lets him. Abroad, if the athlete doesn't play for the team, he loses his place,"

It is an excellent analysis. It helps explain why some of the highly skilled Brazilian players come across as spoilt children, because they have been nurtured in a footballing culture that allows them to get away with it. Having to fight for their place, being treated like any other squad member - they thought they were above all that.

Back at Flamengo, Adriano has continued his habit of occasionally missing training sessions. Whenever it happens the club automatically say that he had a personal problem to sort out. The other players seem to accept it. They give interviews saying how his humility and charisma has won over the group.

The reserve right-back, however, can be as humble and charismatic as they come, but he will never be given the same leeway. The star player - the craque, as he is referred to in Brazil - has his privileges.

Robinho scores for SantosRobinho celebrates a goal for Santos during the 2005 Copa Libertadores

The fact that Santos are prepared to take Robinho on a six-month loan is a tribute to the importance of the craque. A year would make much more sense from their point of view, but none at all from Manchester City's.

Back in August, morale and market value theoretically boosted by the World Cup, City can either offload him or re-assimilate him into a squad that may even be playing in the Champions League, hence their rejection of the Santos idea of a year-long deal.

The trouble is that until August, Santos don't have a great deal of important matches for Robinho to play in.

They haven't qualified for the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, and he can't do much in the National Championship - it kicks off in May, but after a few rounds comes the interruption for the World Cup, with Robinho presumably heading off to South Africa.

They will also be playing in the Sao Paulo State Championship - by far the strongest of Brazil's regional competitions, but still a glorified pre-season tournament that clutters up the calendar - and then there is the Brazilian Cup, which is worthwhile because the winner qualifies for the next year's Libertadores.

So why do it? For all their name, and the Pele link, Santos represent a fairly small city, with a population of around 420,000. Even with Robinho on board, they surely cannot offer the same appeal to sponsors as the likes of Flamengo, Corinthians or Sao Paulo.

The negotiations with these three or four companies must have presented some challenges. So, for what is in reality hardly a vital six months in the history of the club, why go to all this trouble?

The answer is because Luis Alvaro Ribeiro has just taken over as Santos president. Bringing back Robinho is his way of announcing his arrival. Which, come to think of it, is the same reason the player ended up at Manchester City.

Robinho didn't go to Eastlands because his skills were judged as perfect for the needs of the team. His signing was a banner proclaiming 'we're new on the block and we're serious.' His presence gave credibility to the financial strength of the new regime, and helped the club attract other big names. So even if he does move on in August, if never kicks another ball for Man City, Robinho has made some kind of contribution.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent article Tim - personally i feel his future will depend on whether City get in the magical top 4, with a champions league place to play for and a successful world cup campaign behind him surely Robinho will knuckle down and reproduce the form from his first season at city.

    What is going on with Anderson at the minute there has been much speculation about him missing training and flying home with rumours of a switch to Vasco & Lyon in today's press, can you shed any light?

    THanks

  • Comment number 2.

    Tim, love your blog, especially today with the Santos theme. Santos have been my South American team ever since i noticed the likes of Diego, Robinho and Elano back in 2003! Just wondering, what are the chances of these guys who have gone back to Brazil getting back into the Brazil squad, not so much Robinho who hasn't really been out, but Adriano and Ronaldo? I would love to see Ronaldo at the World cup again!!

  • Comment number 3.

    and even Ronaldinho, now that he has had a resurgance at AC Milan!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice blog.

    I've always wondered when certain players like Robinho sign for clubs why no one has ever offered performance based wages eg. for Robinho, £40,000 per week, £10,000 per goal/assist, a bonus of £500,000 for winning the league cup, £1m for the FA cup, £1m for CL spot and an extra £2m for winning the league.
    If he and the club performs well he becomes the highest paid player in the world, if not he still gets a wage most of us can only dream of.

  • Comment number 5.

    Man City would be better served by playing him in the reserves, at least it would soften Robinho up to take a pay-cut in August allowing City to sell him.

    I can only see him being a Crespo, on Man City's payroll till the end of his contract while playing for Milan. I am sure the wages and his behaviour will also make it difficult to offload in Eto-Ibrahimovic style deal.

    City's view is very short-termish and serves only to get a disruptable player out ofthe dressing room.

  • Comment number 6.

    Brazil is changing. The country as a whole is earning more and it will eventually reflect in football too.

    I think in a decade or so, clubs will be financially secure enough to dictate terms to the talented players as opposed to the current situation where the more pampered are tolerated for the ever hanging threat of them leaving to play for the higher paying european leagues.

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim your point on the state league is also very relevant, I watched Internacional (a libatores qualifyer this year I think) playing in the local state league. However they played no first team players. It was more like a reserve/youth team rather first team or even a Arsenal Carling Cup team. I think first team players are still on the beach. Perhaps as the national season approaches, the first team may use these fixtures as a semi-competitive pre-season?

    What will Robinho be doing there? - drinking, eating, carnival and all things brasilian. The only football he will be playing is a bit of pre-season. If i was Dunga I'd prefer someone match-sharp playing competitive football.

  • Comment number 8.

    A marvellously balanced, astute, and insightful piece of writing, Tim. A great Friday lunchtime read. Thank you.

  • Comment number 9.

    I feel players with his sort of attitude are a vile stain on the game.

  • Comment number 10.

    Freddawlanen : I've always wondered when certain players like Robinho sign for clubs why no one has ever offered performance based wages eg. for Robinho, £40,000 per week, £10,000 per goal/assist, a bonus of £500,000 for winning the league cup, £1m for the FA cup, £1m for CL spot and an extra £2m for winning the league.

    ----

    Its pretty simple why this is not done more. Its because the players wouldnt accept it. Would you if your boss came to you and said you would only recieve a third of your pay if your team didnt meet targets? If another team offered him the exact same wage but without conditions who would a mercenary like Robinho choose do you think?

    Also the taxman doesnt get on very well with bonuses exceeding earnings I would imagine.

  • Comment number 11.

    In response to Craig (1):

    I agree with you first response, that if City get in the top 4, this should inspire him to reproduce his best form, because this season he looks disinterested at best. Although undoubtedly on form he is a sublime talent.

    Note: - not sure his current physique suits the premier league though. As well as being relatively short at 5ft. 7'he is also very light-weight, - a bit lke rafael for Man United, and as we all know the Premier League, - especially when compared to La Liga is very physical.
    I don't really think his height is a factor though look at Tevez, an inch short than Robinho but someone who hasn a stocky build and can hold his own against anyone. The best example of how becoming more physical can work wonders for your game is Ronaldo. At the beginning he was a bit like Robinho (although he was only 18 and still developing), - but once he bulked up a little (or a lot judging by his armani shoot)this made him into probaly trhe worlds best player.

    On the Anderson situation:

    There is talk of Anderson going out to Lyon on loan, and Lyon keeper Llorente coming the other way. There is even talk this could go through this transfer window.

    The Anderson deal looks like it may only remain a loan deal, however SAF is keen to tie up Llorente on a permanent basis to be understudy to Edwin Van der sar (who is likely to retire at the end of the season), however Llorente may take same persuading that he will be second in line (and first when VDS) retires as obviously we already have Foster and Kuszchak.

    That's as much as I know up to know mate, obviously like you I only read this gossip this morning. Anyway hope this helps.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for your thoughts Jamie - i realise you mean Lloris rather than Llorente :)

    I'm actually pretty disappointed with the Anderson situation in his first season he looked very promising with great performances against the rest of the big 4 and i had high hopes for him. Bit of a disappointing yet injury hit second season but looked like he had got back to form this season early doors. Seemingly even though he was brought to the club at the same time as Nani it is impossible for them to be in favour or form at the same time!

    With Nani's last two performances at his preferred right midfield position he has given the valencia great competition - pity neither has a good left foot!

    Have a godo weekend mate

  • Comment number 13.

    RE: Tony #10

    I see where you're coming from, but if I were offered this kind of a deal I'd jump at the offer, knowing that if I did my own job very well I'd still get the same wages as before, even if no other member of my 'team' performed.
    My own stakes would be raised massively in the process and it would be obvious to everyone who the most talented worker was, numerous 'brownie points' would be won, which would only further my own career.
    As for the tax man, they don't actually care where the money comes from, as long as they get their own pound of flesh.

  • Comment number 14.

    Godd Piece Tim. Thanks for the read !

    I stated yesterday afternoon that I was glad Robinho has gone and I will go as far as saying I am hoping he does not come back.

    City have enough attention on them in the media as a "club" and to have individuals like him talked about in addition constantly is not good for our potential progress.

    He has done well for us off the pitch in promoting awareness of our club, but it is a shame his form has not come close to his record fee. But he has served a purpose as you correctly state.

    I cannot understand why it has gone so wrong this season for him having got 15 goals last season. I have wondered about the departure of Elano??

    Elano was a close freind of Robinho's and like Elano, they both struggled for form in their second season at City.

    Anyways, glad he is gone and I will say it again... Away fans can only boo at Bellamy now !


  • Comment number 15.

    So basically rather than try and work hard for a place at man city, robinho has decided to go and put his feet up for the next 5 months before the world cup and take it easy whilst still on astronomical wages.

    wish i could do that!!

  • Comment number 16.

    It seems to me that Robinho has ended up fading and sulking for every club he has played for, even after an initial honeymoon period. If this carries on he will end up forging a career as a journeyman rather than a footballing great. But if he manages to overcome his attitude problems can you see him settling down and enjoying an extended period of form and success, just as Nicolas Anelka finally seems to be doing?

  • Comment number 17.

    In response to Craig:

    Made myself look at bit of a fool there, lol.

    Yes Lloris as you rightly corrected me. As you may have realised, - as I got his name wrong, I haven't heard an awful lot about him, have you?

    He seemed to have slipped off the radar a little, along with Igor Ankifeev, who has really impressed. We've also been linked with De Gea (from Athletico Madrid) and apparently Wigan are also interested. And don't know if there is any thruth in our interest in De Gea, or whether this is purely gossip, however I think if Wigan manage to out bid us, we must be well and truly cash - strapped. Again though I think the papers are blowing this out of proportion.

    On Anderson again, I like him but I wonder about his attitude and commitment. He and Nani seem to take turns in floating in and out of favour. On Nani I have been really impressed by him in the last two games. I'm not sure about some people saying he seems to have matured all of a sudden, as 2 weeks is a pretty rapid transformation, however I would say he does seem to be realising all the show-boating isn't necessary, and that to be a Man United player, another thing expected of you is that you track back.

    Anyhow hope he keeps it up, he seems to have been operating better on the right last two games, but the problem for him is he will probably have to dis-lodge Valencia from this side, as I'm not sure I match Valencia's credentials with a left winger, and at the moment I still favour Valencia just about a head of Nani on the right.

    Like you said it provides good competition for Valencia.

    Have a good weekend yourself mate.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great article, very interesting. I have loved watching the Robinho v Craig Bellamy situation play out this season. Robinho has fantastic technique, but looks disinterested. Bellamy may not have the same tricks as Robinho, but has shown in his desire and attitude that he deserves the spot on the team sheet more than the Brazilian.

    I'm intruiged as to how this debacle will end. I found the Barcelona link surprising, given that Guardiola had turfed out the supposed bad attitudes in the dressing room. I suspect the suggestion above (5) that he could end up in a similar situation to Crespo could occur.

  • Comment number 19.

    'Never played the game', the local state leagues are considered professionals and the teams use their first team and their important players (like Ronaldo and Adriano, for example) to play on it. The thing that happened is that Internacional is a team that is used to play with its B team when they find the game can be (in certain way) easily won or when they have two competitions to play at the same week, and they want to give the privilege to one of those. Though, that is not a much common thing for brazilian clubs to do.
    The teams who win their local state leagues, most in the cases of the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul (state from wich Internacional is), that have strongest local leagues, are also considered as biggest favourits to win the national cahmpionship.

  • Comment number 20.

    "SAF is keen to tie up Llorente on a permanent basis to be understudy to Edwin Van der sar (who is likely to retire at the end of the season), however Llorente may take same persuading that he will be second in line (and first when VDS) retires as obviously we already have Foster and Kuszchak."

    Lloris is miles better than Kuszchak and Foster, and has the potential to be as good as VDS was in his prime. You think he'd be worried that he might not even be 2nd in line?! Plus he's cup tied in the Champions League - what would be the point of him moving to Man Utd for 6 months? He's got his World Cup place to think about!

  • Comment number 21.

    Freddawlanen wrote:

    "I've always wondered when certain players like Robinho sign for clubs why no one has ever offered performance based wages eg. for Robinho, £40,000 per week, £10,000 per goal/assist, a bonus of £500,000 for winning the league cup, £1m for the FA cup, £1m for CL spot and an extra £2m for winning the league."

    This is the way Brian Clough used to run Nottingham Forest, low basic wages and big bonuses, and I think the fact that he took Forest to two European Cups showed that it can work! But even Cloughy in his autobiography stated that it isn't possible anymore though. It's a shame I think, it'd be a nice way to run a club, but as Tony answered, players would be unlikely to accept it, most people like to have a steady income.

    I also think that the sums you quoted were far too low to be practical, although perhaps you just meant to give examples. I'm not sure exactly how much Robinho is on, but let's say £100,000 per week. He'd make more money on his current deal than on the one you suggested even if Man City won the League!

    One last thing - I do wonder if it would make it more difficult for other clubs to challenge the big four. I mean, maybe someone would consider that kind of deal if they were signing for Man Utd or Chelsea, knowing they have a good chance of winning things, but a club like Villa or Everton might find it even more difficult than now to attract top players. I do appreciate that the Nottingham Forest example is against that though!

  • Comment number 22.

    RoqAdeTevinho 10 -Great observations.

    Tim, great article. I have often wondered to why Brazilian players fail in the UK. When CITY signed Robhinio I was very skeptical, he somewhat proved me wrong with one or two magical moments last year but all in all he went missing in so many big games.

    Tim, so the failure of Brazilians in the EPL is down to a lack of discipline, the lack of mortivation to fight for a place in the team. This lack of discipline is born out of a culture that allows star playes to be "molly coddled" allowing them to take liberties. (missing training, buggering off back to brazil= Jo, Robhinio)

    I agree with most of the bloggers, give me Bellamy anyday. In to many games last year, specifically away from home our left-back was left with no cover and it cost us dear, specifically against Hamburg in the UEFFA league.

    I feel Mancini has done a good job handling this situation. He give Robhino kudos, built him up, provided an opportunity to prove himself but in essence the player was not happy and thus the best solution is a 6 month vacation.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hello everyone. As a brazilian and having football as my religion I have an opinion that Robinho will not make the same impact that Adriano have made when he returned to Flamengo. I personally think that Robinho will not provide the quality that Santos need as himself alone will not be able to do the job. He should have heard Mancini's suggestion and gone to São Paulo where he would have tha best infrastructure and squad, including the possibility of playing the Libertadores, which is the most prestigious tournment in South America. I know that football is not a racional sport and feelings are much more part of the game than racionality, but on this occasion he should have thought twice.

  • Comment number 24.

    Jamie,

    Haven't seen enough of Lloris to pass judgement although i could say the same about Smalling - Lloris did impress me in the France v ROI play off but hopefully VDS will have another season in him and we won't have to worry about this quandary.

    At least Nani has given us the option for Sunday either to start or to come on - wouldn't fancy being a left back facing either one for 70 mins then facing a fresh nani/valencia

    if only we had the same cover on the left - at 36 Giggs is a certain starter there in the big games! for sunday i'd play VDS, Rafael, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney

    Not a fan of park but he does a job in these games, scholes has played 2 games in a week and nani is poor at left wing!

    at the risk of rambling with no Vermaelen we should maybe deploy 2 up front and go at them?

  • Comment number 25.

    In response to Jamie Riley:

    Hugo Lloris has the potential of being a fantastic keeper. I’ve seen him first hand on a couple of occasions this season. I was in Dublin and Paris for both WC Play Offs and particularly in Paris he pulled off a couple of quality saves to keep the French in the tie. He has been very solid for Lyon in the CL this season. He’s only turned 23 so signing him would make a lot of sense. Can’t see it happening in this window though.

    I have to say the Anderson situation is extremely frustrating for me; it’s obvious that he is a very talented individual with a fantastic engine. He can be immense for 20 mins in a game completely controlling the midfield and then all of a sudden he misplaces a pass or two and you won’t see him for the rest of the game. Maybe going out on loan would do him the world of good!!

    As for Nani, you are correct in saying he has been impressive in his last two games, but he still has to do a lot to prove he is good enough to be at OT. I hope he is coming good now (not before time mind), but the jury is still very much out on him.

  • Comment number 26.

    I first became aware of Robinho back in 2002 when his Santos team, with Alex, Elano & Diego, won the Brazilian national championship. At the time he was a real favourite of mine. How times have changed!!!

    He went to R Madrid and cried like a baby every time he was left out of the starting line-up, and then on to Man City for as much money as he could possible get out of them. He has one of the poorist attitudes I have seen in a professional footballer for a long time.

    No club should touch him with a barge pole now after his runner back to Brazil to put his feet up for 5 months. Dunga has a much better option with the in-form Ronaldo, who loves the World Cup & who's attitude has always been spot-on, even if his weight has not always.

    Thinking of what the future should hold for Robinho, it starts with no World Cup place, followed by returning to Man City to play for the reserves for 3 years while his contract runs out (Winston Bogarde anyone?) He will then be signed by a team in Qatar with limited football knowledge and lots of cash, play 5 games for the before terminating his contract and heading back to Brazil to play for ??? - Santos will not want him back again after his performances over the next 5 months.

    Robinho - Please stay gone !!!

    PS: Salary capping is the best idea football has needed for the past 10-15 years. If the Prime Minister is on about £250k per year then put every footballer on a max of £1m per year (£20k per week) and then each club can top-up with bonuses. If every club in the world took this view then all the footballers would have no choice but to accept these types of deals, or they can go and work for Macdonalds!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I think that in the end, Robinho just isn't good enough for any top club in Europe (or aspiring top club). If you watch him closely (and I have), you'll see that he just doesn't work hard enough to play in any position other than in the attack. And then, as an attacker, he just can't finish well enough. Another problem is his fragile physique and while some players overcome that with pace, Robinho just isn't pacey enough to to just that.

    BTW, Tim, I understand why you compared them to begin with, but I suspect that aside from his ethics (or should I say mental problems), Adriano could play anywhere in the world as a top striker; I can't say the same about Robinho.

  • Comment number 28.

    The issue regarding players getting paid on a pay per play or performance related bonus basis, is really much simpler than the answers I have seen so far suggest. You would need every club to do this, otherwise it doesn't work. When a player signs his contract he has choices, and the better the player the more choices he has. If City say "Hey Robinho, come play at Eastlands, and if you score 20 goals a season, you will earn 5million (and the small print is, if you dont you only make 1 million)" Robinho, and his agent, say "No thanks, because Inter Milan has offered me 4 million, and they dont care if I even make the team!" The market determines your wages, whether you are a sports star, or a plumber. Performance bonuses will never be more than a small part of the wage structure, particularly for players who are in demand.

    Robinho? I had no idea he was going to Brazil during the close season! Thanks for highlighting this Tim. How on earth can being there help his cause in making it to SA 2010? I guess the answer is that he knows he is going already, and him and Dunga maybe see the rest as a good idea.

    Great blog! I love it when I know more facts after reading a blog, than I did before. A rarity on this site!

  • Comment number 29.

    28- it's not really the close season - there are plenty of games, and there are points at stake - but in domestic football it's the time when those games mean less than when the national championship gets underway.

    In a footballing sense it would have made much more sense to join sao paulo, who are in the copa libertadores - they did a similar thing with adriano a couple of years back - brought him back from italy for their libertadores campaign.

    Robinho's insistence on santos over sao paulo is baffling - it's only an hour down the road, the much vaunted sao paulo physio rosan also works with the national team.

    i presume that he feels so sure of his prestige with dunga that activity - any activity - will ensure his place in the starting line up in the world cup.

  • Comment number 30.

    Tim,

    How do think Robinho will get on with Santos?

    What do you think will happen when he returns to Man City?

  • Comment number 31.

    i don't know what will happen on august 4th - it's very, very difficult to see how santos can keep him - whether he stays at city or finds a buyer - who knows.
    his dad was saying yesterday that robinho is very grateful to the sheik at city and will certianly go back.
    as reagrds how he'll do - should do very well. The world cup has a magical motivating effect - look at ronaldinho - he'll be in a lower standrad of football, less fast and physical and - and this is crucial - the absurd criteria of the refs in brazil will benefit him. he'll get a foul every time a defender do much as looks at him - i don't think he's ever really adapted to this aspect of european football, and i feel it's something which has undermined his confidence over there.

  • Comment number 32.

    Other people on here have summed up Robinho exactly as I would:
    very talented individual who doesn't work hard enough for the team- and this is a recipe for failure, especially in England;
    sulks- this reflects Tim's point about "craques" being feted too much here in Brazil;
    drifts in and out of matches, blows hot and cold;
    I can see him fading away, to be honest. I hope not , though, because he has marvellous skill;
    One more point, I read not long ago that Robinho hadn't got to grips with English( the language!)and this, surely, mustn't have helped him. Gilberto Silva recently offered Robinho (and others) this advice re playing in England: first learn the language,then learn the football. Maybe one more factor in why it didn't work out at City.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is interesting the comparison you make between Robinho arriving at City and arriving at Santos, both as demonstrations of financial extravagance. Not sure what the future holds for Robinho, perhaps being a big fish in a little pond will massage his ego enough to kickstart his career once more. Interesting contrast to his old teammate Diego who continues to perform admirably in a disappointing Juventus side.

    On another issue, I was wondering what you think the future holds for Emiliano Alfaro at San Lorenzo following his move from Uruguayan football? The short glimpses I have seen of him he seems a good prospect. Will he get his game in Argentina?

  • Comment number 34.

    @19 Annebaliza my only comment here was that if he did play in the state league, it would be against inferior players, even though they are still professionals.

    While in the English pre-season Arsenal will play lower-league professional clubs such as Barnt or Colchester. However they only play a handful of these games as the footballing benefit and money benefit of playing more than a few these games is limited. In the Cup's this is limited also with premiership teams entering at the 3rd round.

    Perhaps the Brazil premier players could benefit from either resting or playing a higher standard of football in this period. Perhaps this is why some (but not all) use it as reserve team fixtures which is fine also.

  • Comment number 35.

    Jamie & Craig. I know Anderson arrived along with Nani, but I think its a bit unfair to lump them together. Anderson puts in a shift almost every game he plays and Nani the opposite.

    I really rate Anderson - He has been given a real challenge to transition from a support striker to central midfielder. Something Paul Scholes had to do and he still tackles like a striker.

    I also think he has a lot of qualities that arent rated in this league by pundits. His ball retention is excellant, he can pick a pass and always plays on the deck. And one of the reason he rarely scores is because he is always making himself available for the easy pass back - and while he takes up this position - he is the first to defend a counter-attack again a thankless task but something he is very effective at.

    As for Nani. He has never passed the ball, which at United is a sin. Now when he plays, united support players rarely get close to him and offer themselves as they know it would be wasted energy.

    United need 2 extra wingers, quality wingers are what differentiates a top 3/4 team from the rest. Fergie knows this, its just he can't pick one up for less than £20m.

    He is not a Roy Keane but then united have been champions the past 3 years without a holding(tackling only) midfilder and I like this set-up.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think that robinho might of played his last game for Man City but he is still an amazing player and i hope he gets into the Brazilian squad for south africa thanks for the article Tim and good luck Robinho :D

  • Comment number 37.

    Another excellent blog Tim,

    I have been an admirer for a long time especially since moving to Brasil 7 months ago...

    Like you, I live in Rio but my girlfriend (that I met in London) is Santista so I have spent a lot of time in Santos and have been to a few games at Villa Belmiro as well as other stadiums in São Paulo... obviously I didn't have much choice when it came to choosing a team to support in Brasil!

    My two cents on Robinho...It has been mentioned but I don't think people should underplay the departure of Elano from Man City as a factor in Robinhos lack of drive this year. Elano is more than just a good mate of his, he was his best man at his wedding last year in Brasil and I think Robinho probably feels like he doesn't have any friends now at Man City.

    I think Robinho will do very well at Santos. Many hardcore Santos supporters that I have have spoken to take great pleasure in telling me about how amazing Robinho was when he won the two titles in 02 & 04, scoring and creating great goals and getting the Torcida Jovem (Hardcore Fans) absolutely rocking for home games.

    I would argue with those who don't respect Robinho as an outstanding talent...he may have not shown up many times for Man City, especially away from home but I will never forget the goal he scored for Brasil against Italy in their friendly at the Emirates, nicking the ball off one Andrea Pirlo, twisting and cruyf turning before beating Buffon from a tight angle...you go a long way to see a more special piece of talent.

  • Comment number 38.

    Don't remember Robinho being cited as having prima-donna issues at Real. He was easily their most important player whenever he was on the pitch. The move to Man City was, as predicted in many places, disastrous. Their style of football, lack of a coherent strategy from management on down contributed. No knock on City for trying to grow their club, but don't think they have a clue, just pots of money.

  • Comment number 39.

    Two of the finest comments from guys who have actually followed this guy(Robinho) well and appreciate football

    37. At 9:32pm on 29 Jan 2010, Rios_Finest_Gooner wrote:
    Another excellent blog Tim,

    I have been an admirer for a long time especially since moving to Brasil 7 months ago...

    Like you, I live in Rio but my girlfriend (that I met in London) is Santista so I have spent a lot of time in Santos and have been to a few games at Villa Belmiro as well as other stadiums in São Paulo... obviously I didn't have much choice when it came to choosing a team to support in Brasil!

    My two cents on Robinho...It has been mentioned but I don't think people should underplay the departure of Elano from Man City as a factor in Robinhos lack of drive this year. Elano is more than just a good mate of his, he was his best man at his wedding last year in Brasil and I think Robinho probably feels like he doesn't have any friends now at Man City.

    I think Robinho will do very well at Santos. Many hardcore Santos supporters that I have have spoken to take great pleasure in telling me about how amazing Robinho was when he won the two titles in 02 & 04, scoring and creating great goals and getting the Torcida Jovem (Hardcore Fans) absolutely rocking for home games.

    I would argue with those who don't respect Robinho as an outstanding talent...he may have not shown up many times for Man City, especially away from home but I will never forget the goal he scored for Brasil against Italy in their friendly at the Emirates, nicking the ball off one Andrea Pirlo, twisting and cruyf turning before beating Buffon from a tight angle...you go a long way to see a more special piece of talent.

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    38. At 9:35pm on 29 Jan 2010, LeeMeade wrote:
    Don't remember Robinho being cited as having prima-donna issues at Real. He was easily their most important player whenever he was on the pitch. The move to Man City was, as predicted in many places, disastrous. Their style of football, lack of a coherent strategy from management on down contributed. No knock on City for trying to grow their club, but don't think they have a clue, just pots of money.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I live in England and support Man United, but the way Barcelona totally outclassed us at the last Champions League demonstrated more clearly than anything how much we need to rethink our football.

    Pele once said that football is 90% in the brain and 10% physical. He was 100% correct. Football in England is much too one dimensional and way too physical. Football is not Rugby, it's an art. Too many footballers in the English Leagues are too mediocre at this art, treating instead like a science.

    The referees are another problem, they encourage teh use of brawns over brains, and strength over skill. I have wondered for a long time why England have not done well for so long despite the apparent strength of the League but I think I have realised the problem.

    For instance, I think England would win a world cup very easily if you had only English referees at the tournament who would give encouragement to the excessively rough football we play.

    Take one of the reasons why I think we need more development in our game - Passing. When we discuss about passing (at pubs, on these blogs etc.) people tend to concentrate more on accuracy. But the most important thing is first DECISION. Too often, midfielder make the wrong decisions - who to pass to, whther to pass or hold on to the ball a little longer, to pass long or who and most important of all the WEIGHTING of the pass. Apart from Cesc Fabregas, the only other player I have seen get it right almost every time is Tom Huddlestone. Michael Carrick is ok but he gives too many back and sideways passes and the weighting is often not well measured.

    Another contrast is I see with the spanish leagues is player movement. Arsenal do it excellently and Chelsea have improved tremendously under Ancellotti but many other teams including my dear United still have some ways to go. We were much better (at movement) when we had Scholes and Keane in the midfield and Beckham and Giggs on the wings and this is one of the reasons Capello still selects Beckham. Beckham know where to stay to receive the ball and whether to come closer or make s run - a simple aspect of the game so players seem not to have learnt! It irritates when I see people mock Arsenal and speak in scorn about how their passing game has brought few trophies. In truth, trophies are very important but entertainment is more important. It is not trophies that take the fans to the stadia every week otherwise only Man United would have fans! It is entertainment. You've got to entertain the fans while striving to win and this is one of the reasons Abrahamovic sacked Mourinho. If it was all about trophies, clearly Jose would never have been sacked.

    We have to move on. Many still have these 1960's idea of how football should be game (4-4-2) etc. Football has evolved beyond that and has left a lot of us behind. Aston Villa for example supposedly play a 4-4-2, but their marking and closing down in midfield is often more effective than Liverpool or Man United's 4-5-1. So what then is the point? Is it really about the formation or the player's ability and understanding of the game and where they should be when they do have or don't have the ball?

    Finally, what many players need to learn in our league is ball retention. We must get to the point we have to be fouled to lose the ball. Teaching our 9-11 years olds to hoof the ball and hope to get lucky in the six yard box hasn't helped at all! We need to return to the days when it was more about playing a good game than just winning. If you become good enough the winning will inevitably follow but our skill level must improve. Really improve.

    When you consider that Spain have midfielders like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Alonso who are all better than their English counterparts...never mind the excessive press hype about English talent, they have always come out second best when put on the same football pitch. Gerrard and Lampard are out best midfielders but frankly they don't come close to Xavi and Iniesta in too many aspects of the game especially passing and ball retention.

    We really have got to change our football philosophy and thank God for Capello.

  • Comment number 40.

    I Think that is only a kind of marketing developed by Santos FC, in the last year it was near to the second division of Brasilian football. Robinho was a good player when started his career but now is vanglourious and think only in money and believe that he is the best of the world and do not play the same football actually.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think your spot on. When you look at Robinho's career in england it never really took off. His first season was o.k but didnt set the world alight with his consistently poor away form. nor at madrid which suggests that not being the main man of the team certainly affects his perfomances. He clearl has talent and Im not surprised he went back to santos before the world cup and probably did everyting he could to get the move.

    There is no way I can see him moving there permanently or even after the summer. They can never afford his transfer fee or wages no matter what sponsors they get and man city will keep him or he will move to big european club if he has great world cup.

    Was wondering what you think of Ronaldinho and whether he can sustain his decent run of form and play any role in the WC

  • Comment number 42.

    40 - How can I disagree with all you said?

    First, Santos never fought against relegation the whole championship last year, they weren't nowhere near the drop but nowhere near the top.

    Second, Marketing? Maybe, but no denial Robinho had a great spell at Santos before and is a player far from the end of career(Now, the signing of Giovanni was laughable and marketing, he was deemed not good enough few years ago, spent a time at a 3rd division club and now is hailed as the Messias of Santos?)

    Third, Robinho got a big wage cut to play for Santos, and his denial to play for Sao Paulo is VERY interesting, he will be there to play with his heart, not with his wallet.

    Fourth, yes, he has an ego that doesn't match with his talent. He wanted to leave Real Madrid based on the fact that they wanted to trade him with Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a better player physically and tactically, only not technically. He sees that he's on a bad spell on Man City, and I blame Mark Hughes for it.

    Fifth, Ronaldinho passed by the same situation(and being the best player in the decade meant that he could leave his club to another european giant to find form, unlike Robinho who will have to go to a "small" brazilian club)

    I think that the signing of Giovanni and, the needlessly signing, of Robinho shows that the president of Santos only thinks on past reputation, and that is dangerous. He will call Pele back, if he wants to come back.

    But then again, Robinho will be a good player, for useless matches.

  • Comment number 43.

    intersting opinion today from emerson leao, the coach who launched robinho -

    "Neymar is a better version of Robinho. Robinho took a long time to learn to look for the goal, he preferred to do tricks. Neymar learned quicker to be direct."

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, I often read your articles on Brazilian football, and most of the time you are spot on. But I also believe you are sometimes too "nice" when reporting about the realities of football here. First and foremost, we should not forget the ridiculous circumstances surrounding Robinho's departure from Real. His behaviour then was pathetic and childish, but typical Robinho's. And now that he can't perform on the field in England, he wants once again to go elsewhere, trying to find another easy way out from a place he is not again happy in. Again, pathetic. As for the money you mentioned Santos will put together by means of private companies to pay for Robinho's salary, that is a very obscure matter here in Brazil, indeed, and everyone here knows that. Santos are dire straits and are a relatively medium team of a small fan base, without strong marketing appeal. Everyone here doubts Santos can attract the financial interests of big private firms to pay for the salary of an irresponsible fool who can do tricks on the pitch, but actually generate very inconsistent positive results. If you have an idea of what Robinho's monthly salary actually mean here in this country, you would know that this Santos-Robinho deal is very dodgy and likely to end up in tears. And the reason why failed football stars are welcomed back in Brazil, is for the same reason the people here reelect corrupt politicians who keep ruining this country: ignorance, short memory and constant search for a messiah. One day Robinho was playing in Europe, amongst the best players in the world, and now he is playing with youngsters desperately fighting to be sold to a European team. But at the end of the day, ManC should have done their homework better before inadvertently spending those millions in an irresponsible clown. Robinho may go to the World Cup and score the winning goal in the final, but that will still not make him any wiser.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hey Tim, I was interested to here your comments on the World Football Phone that a European league would lead to the creation of smaller clubs and you gave reference to Olympiacos! I happen to think the complete opposite and will use an example closer to the home. In the UK, for example, you have Celtic and Rangers who have dominated their domestic competition for what seems like forever. They have won European trophies in years gone by, and have both reached UEFA Cup Finals in the last decade. Moreover, they have performed respectively in the Champions League and have taken some major European scalps. That said when it comes to competing in the transfer market they just cannot compete with clubs in the English Premiership, for example. How can a club like Wigan be a more attractive option than a club with history and prestige of Celtic or Rangers? Money is the obvious answer along with the chance to play in a top league. Even I can admit as a Celtic fan the SPL is not an attractive league. Like many English people I do not think the Old Firm will ever be invited to the Premiership (at least not in my lifetime). I understand the bigoted hatred certainly does neither half of the Old Firm any favours. There is also the small point neither club is English. I do, however, think if a European League was ever created clubs like Celtic, Rangers, Ajax, PSV, Olympiakos, PSG, Fenerbache would be very competitive through time as they will get the same TV revenue as the likes of Man Utd, Real Madrid and AC Milan. The so called smaller clubs I mentioned are from footballing cities that live football, with clubs that have footballing history, large fan bases and the ability to attract top players. I would imagine a professional footballer you would want to live in a big city with things to do. I would think Glasgow, Athens, Paris, Amsterdam etc would be a more attractive option than Wigan?? (I have nothing against Wigan for the record, I only use them as an example as Gary Caldwell left Celtic for them and they are fresh in my mind). I honestly believe a European League would level the playing field and would allow the lesser clubs get their piece of the pie. I would be interested to hear more of your opinions, or anyone else's opinion for that matter,on this topic. Cheers Mark

  • Comment number 46.

    Great article Tim.

    Reminded me of my visit to the Villa Bel Miro in 2002.

    Santos had a championship winning team led by the precocious youthfull talents of Robinhio and Diego. Also in that side were Alex now of Chelsea and Elano also formerly of Man City.

    The skills of these guys, especially Robbi and Diego, was a joy to watch. Ridiculously talented and so very young. It was a team that played the beautiful game in a wonderful manner.

    Despite their youthfulness and slight statures they were hugely effective and exciting to watch. No doubt the climate and style of play had were a big factor in this.

    I saw them in a Libertatories fixture against an outfit called October 12th as I recall, and they came out victors 3-1. A lasting memory was the opposition going a goal up, the scorer racing towards the Santos 'Torcidda Jovem' to celebrate and finding himself on the recieving end of a hail of 'Channelos' (flip-flops) from the home crowd. I wonder what Craig Bellamy would have made of that!

    I have read some blogs casting negative aspersions about Santos: sure it is a small ground and comparitively small support but lets not forget they are the 4th most successful team from the Paulista and the first team Pele played with. From what little I know they were a bit of a Harlem Globe Trotters side at that time; a follow up blog with some of the history would be nice.

    Robinho has had some bad press at home and abroad. Many Brazilians question his motivations and ethics but lets not forget he came from the tough side of town. His mum was kidnapped soon after his transfer to Spain, and held to ransom. That scenario and the instant rise from Flavella to Ivory towers must be tough for a young lad to handle. Sure the money helps but you can only spend so much.

    I hope he finds his mojo again and in time for the World Cup. He has many years ahead of him and I for one, would love to see him display his talents at this years Coppa del Mundo and the next when the circus goes to Brazil.

    Respect

    Hamish

  • Comment number 47.

    Funny that you mention Neymar there Tim. I think he could well have the career Robinho illustriously thought he would have. I do hope he stays at Santos for a few more seasons though, but you do think that they might cash in despite the increasing financial strength of clubs in Brazil right now.

    I remember the hype when Robinho was at Santos, much of it to do with the Pele comparisons. None of it worth its weight in salt.

    I believe Santos have also brought back Giovanni for his third spell at the club. A player I really liked in Greece with Olympiakos. Sorta like the ugly brother of Rivaldo; replaced him twice at Barcelona and Olympiakos and then went on to play for his club in Brazil.

  • Comment number 48.

    Now don't get me wrong, I love football and I love a bit of football gossip but I don't understand people who attack players for their private lives and the decisions they make in life. If Robinho wants to go back to Brasil to Santos for whatever reason than let him be, people attacking and raving on about his character and choices reminds me of those E-Entertainment Hollywood gossip programmes that some like to watch, just the footballing version of those.. This type of talk only takes away from the thing we really love, football. I'm sure Robinho isn't looking for people to disect his whole life and all his decisions on every blog and chat forum available. Focus on the football.. Don't agree with his choices, ok. Leave it at that.. Don't like his character, ok. Leave it that. This type of obsessive ranting is sickening, makes me like the guy more for no better reason than feeling he's being unfairly set upon.. How are his 'failures' in life or 'un-used potential' on the pitch any of anyone's business? Let's leave the guy alone and get on with out own lives!

  • Comment number 49.

    *our own lives!

  • Comment number 50.

    I am glad to see the back of him. His effort and commitment for City have at times bordered on disgraceful. He's the exact opposite of Bellamy attitude-wise. He consistently looks disinterested and as the blog says he has served his purpose in helping raise our profile. There will be plenty of people that disagree but I won't be bothered if he never plays for us again.

  • Comment number 51.

    Robinho is a talented player... he is going through a tough spell which has nothing to do with discipline.. Even for Brazil he is not playing that well.. at the Confed Cup... Dunga pulled him off a couple of times.. With Ronaldinho regaining his shape and skills.. Robinho may miss out on SA2010 if he does not shape up... besides there are a number of talented young brazilians vying for spots in the squad..
    As for Man City Adebayor is not playing well either after the initial flurry of goals.. Toure and Lescot when they played have been poor.. Manc City need to be patient with the expensive stars they brought in.. a team is more than the sum of its parts.. the time factor is importnat for a team to gel and for players to excel together.. Arsene Wenger anyone? Point is.. Robinho may not be the first star to be offloaded by city..others will be soon unless the wealthy owners understand that money does not buy a good team

  • Comment number 52.

    Haven’t read anywhere what City are getting out of this financially – can’t imagine that they let him go to Santos for free.
    Not sure if returning to home will help his cause with Brazil. Adriano got back into the national team but Fred and Vágner Love look well out of the picture. A lot could depend on the improving form of Ronaldinho Gaúcho.
    Saw that he’s just pulled a fast one and has already arrived here in Brazil. Should have landed on Monday but apparently he came early to avoid the press and the fans. He may even go to the Vila for today’s Santos x Oeste game.
    Could be an interesting match on Feb 7th. Santos are away at São Paulo (though the game’s in the Arena Barueri) and it should be Robinho’s first game back!

  • Comment number 53.

    Its all about the culture, Brazillians are naturally gifted players who are born to play football, its the only sport that keeps them happy and out of poverty, it isnt true that they move to europe JUST for money , they also want to prove thier talent in Europe, Robinho if wanted more money could have opted to go to MLS, and live a hollywood celebrity life. but the passion towards the game and that stubborness to prove I AM THE BEST , is what makes him play the game.being on top is one thing maintaining that position is a different thing, Havent we heard of OWEN & Gambling ,Rooney and his unpredictable behavior, GAZZA and his alcohal, Baines and his cranky butt,now Terry closing the gap left by Bridge, its not in Wayne (vain) though. its all a part of the game, coz Mancini is got options , he chose to push Robinho out ,wait till he gets to know Adebayour who is a million times worst than himself, ask Arsene,Anyways good luck to Robinho, he is born to be a star and nothing can stop him , unsure whether he will return to Mancity, after the world cup, offers will pour in from elsewhere,watch out.

  • Comment number 54.

    I was wondering why we have read so little about Roberto Carlos being signed by Corinthions..a far better player that Robinho will ever be...or have they signed Roberto Carlos the one legged singer by mistake?

  • Comment number 55.

    I don't really rate the guy. By the time he left Real Madrid he was never starting a game and was generally a laughing stock amongst the Spanish fans. The only thing about the deal I didn't like is that the money doubtless went towards buying Ronaldo. So you could say City spent 32 million quid so Ronaldo would leave United lol!

  • Comment number 56.

    54 - Cause Roberto Carlos is ending his career, something that Robinho is not.

    55 - Madrid has deep pockets, sold Robinho for 32m and bought Kaka for 56m, Cristiano for 80m(let's not forget that Ronaldo is a far better player than Cristiano will ever be) and Benzema for 30m.

    Therefore City has funded only Karim Benzema. Cristiano would leave anyway.

  • Comment number 57.

    56...and you dont think Adriano and Ronaldo are coming to the ends of their careers???

  • Comment number 58.

    57 - Ronaldo, yes. Adriano, more or less(he has no big ambitions nowadays)

  • Comment number 59.

    robinho better get his act together quickly, otherwise nilmar is fast becoming a capable replacement in the selecao XI. the copa do mundo is not too far away, and robinho does not only need to play regularly, but also do well with santos. that is a bit of a big ask i reckon. but if o imperador adriano can lead a flamengo club back to brasileirao glory, i'm sure robinho can help santos towards ways of recongnition that pele brought to the club. i'm sure dunga is keeping a keen eye on proceedings. i wish more of the brasilian players come back home, the brasileirao is already shaping up to be another great season this year!

  • Comment number 60.

    Tim, please clarify to your readers the REAL reasons why Brazilian players in English teams act the way they do:

    1. They want to finish their career in one piece
    2. They want to be healthy to have a chance in the national team.
    3. They don't want to end up like: Juninho, Edu, Fabio Aurelio, Carlos Eduardo, etc.

    The reality is that the English tournament is played like a battle field, a boring ping-pong style. It reflects that the don't win world cups with this ugly and badly played style.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60- That is just a ridiculous statement.

  • Comment number 62.

    I cannot agree when the author says Santos does not have the same appeal as Flamengo, Corinthians or Sao Paulo and "represent a fairly small city".

    Santos is a small city, but the club has an estimated fan base of 8 million supporters. Since Pele SAntos does not belogns to the city. One example is that Santos used to send its home games in different cities and stadiums. Santos won its 2 world championships playing at Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro.

    And since Robinho returned, Brazilian Football is just talking about Santos. For instance, Santos and Robinho were on the main brazilian TV, Globo, yesterday from morning to midnight. Specially after what he did yesterday in the derby against Sao Paulo.

    For those who haven't watched yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DA5peHPvmTU

    You can talk about "individual and collective responsibility" but Brazilians have the most important thing in football: talent. And that's why Brazil is a 5 times World Cup Winner while England only got one (with a little help from its friends). hehe

    Kind regards!

  • Comment number 63.

    Tim, another good read as ever. I used to be extremely interested in South American football, most notably Brazilian, but recently my interest has waned. Could you recommend me some decent websites which provide decent opinions, stats, facts, the league table etc... to hopefully envoke some sort of resurgence of interest? I find myself being even more drawn to the game again as it's less than 7 weeks until I find myself being in Rio itself! I'm hoping I can catch either a Santos or Vasco game before the close season, which is 7th April I understand?

  • Comment number 64.

    great blog.

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  • Comment number 68.

    But if o imperador adriano can lead a flamengo club back to brasileirao glory, i'm sure robinho can help santos towards ways of recongnition that pele brought to the club.
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  • Comment number 71.

    I like Anderson... but I wonder about his attitude and commitment. He and Nani seem to take turns in floating in and out of favour. On Nani I have been really impressed by him in the last two games. I'm not sure about some people saying he seems to have matured all of a sudden, as 2 weeks is a pretty rapid transformation, however I would say he does seem to be realising all the show-boating isn't necessary, and that to be a Man United player, another thing expected of you is that you track back. Rent a Car | Inchiriere auto

  • Comment number 72.

    But if o imperador adriano can lead a flamengo club back to brasileirao glory, i'm sure robinho can help santos towards ways of recongnition that pele brought to the club. New York Divorce lawyers

  • Comment number 73.

    I really wouldnt be so sure. Messi? Of course. Aguero? Well...no. Capello like his big man up front of Cole/Heskey/Crouch and then there is Rooney, and Rooney is at the moment a better player then Aguero. That simple really.
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  • Comment number 74.

    Good work , keep us posting , your a very good writer... I don't really rate the guy. By the time he left Real Madrid he was never starting a game and was generally a laughing stock amongst the Spanish fans. The only thing about the deal I didn't like is that the money doubtless went towards buying Ronaldo. So you could say City spent 32 million quid so Ronaldo would leave United lol!

  • Comment number 75.

    He has been playing pretty well since moving. Well, the speed of the English game isn't for everyone!

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  • Comment number 76.

    South america is changing. The continent as a whole is earning more and that will eventually be reflected in entertainment such as football too. I think in a decade or so, clubs will be financially secure enough to be in a stronger negotiating position with the talented players as opposed to the current situation where players are tolerated because of the threat of them leaving to play for the higher paying european leagues.

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    I can only see him being a Crespo, on Man City's payroll till the end of his contract while playing for Milan. I am sure the wages and his behaviour will also make it difficult to offload in Eto-Ibrahimovic style deal.

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