On the final day of last year’s Premier League transfer window new Manchester City owners Abu Dhabi United Group issued a statement of intent. Their lavish riches suggested they would splash the cash to transform the Manchester club and they were good to their word instantly, bringing the Brazilian Robinho to Eastlands from Real Madrid for a whopping £32.5 million pounds. Since then the Arab owners have spent well in excess of a £100 million transforming the club and have begun to watch their financial input develop into results. So if City are clearly on the brink of great things, why on earth would Robinho want to leave?
The Brazilian has recently spent a three month spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury and has been sorely missed by the side despite the never ending list of talent on display at Eastlands. During his time on the treatment table there have been whispers that Barcelona are interested in the winger, whispers that are becoming louder by the day with the issue refusing to disappear. There is no doubt that interest from the European champions would tempt any player in the world. The chance to play with the likes of Messi, Ibrahimovic and Iniesta would alone be enough to convince most players, however Robinho must look at the bigger picture and there are two very clear sides to this argument.
Robinho recently left Barcelona’s arch rivals Real Madrid in order to come to Eastlands and the frustration in which the Brazilian suffered in his time at the Bernabéu was widely documented. He is believed to have moved to City more for the chance to get away from Madrid and less because of his belief in the revolution. This can be seen by his eagerness to join Chelsea in the weeks before the move and the fact that Robinho signed for City briefly after the Abu Dhabi takeover. Despite his obvious brilliance, one must then ask the question of whether Robinho will become a key player for the Catalan club or whether he will just act as a luxury. You need only ask Aliaksandr Hleb about playing second fiddle at the Camp Nou and Robinho would need to know this would not be the case. Barcelona also already have an abundance of talent in the position in which Robinho specialises; take Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and the young Pedro as examples. Robinho needs to have a long hard look at what his role would be if he was to return to Spain.
However, with summer signings in the form of Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez it is clear what Mark Hughes’ plan is. Since the arrival of the flamboyant Robinho, Hughes has begun to make solid signings of players who have proven Premier League ability. With these additions to the squad, question marks have been raised over what part Robinho will play upon his return from injury. Having said that, I believe City cannot afford to let Robinho go. Sure, despite 14 Premier League goals on his debut season, he still often managed to look uninterested on cold winter away days, but City need a player of his creative ability. In their recent run of six straight Premier League draws they have missed the creative spark and flair that Robinho can bring and I have no doubt that upon his return he will remind people of this. I believe it is no coincidence that the performances of Stephen Ireland have dropped since Robinho was condemned to the treatment room. Other players benefit from the magic that the Brazilian has and he and Ireland in particular forged a good understanding last season.
Pablo Zabaleta has recently publically stated his wish for Robinho to stay at the club. Zabaleta said “I hope we can enjoy having him with us for a long time. The truth is, we will achieve our goals faster as a club with players like Robinho here.” This raises an interesting point for me. Robinho was and will always be the flagship signing that marked the beginning of the Manchester City revolution. There is no argument that the club have since then taken steps in the right direction, however Robinho’s departure could be seen in a number of ways. It could be seen as the Brazilian wishing for a return to Spain to join the European champions yet it could also be seen as evidence that maybe the Man City ship is not progressing fast enough.
The next few months are likely to play a crucial part in the future of Robinho. After his three month lay-off the Brazilian is set to return to action this weekend in the fixture with Hull City. Robinho’s involvement and Manchester City’s progress in the upcoming month before the January transfer window is likely to go a long way in deciding the outcome of the Robinho-Barcelona saga.