Santos ready to welcome prodigal son
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.
City 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 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.