After 18 turbulent months at Manchester City, it seems as though Robinho is about to take his often ineffectual and lazy, but sometimes brilliant, performances back to his homeland in Brazil.
So was he ever really suited to life at Eastlands, and English football in general?
Frustratingly, the answer seems to be no. How else can his lack of desire to stay and fight for his place in the City team be explained? Especially as it is a World Cup year.
He is undoubtedly one of the most gifted footballers on the planet. His arrival in Manchester almost blew the Richter scale off the charts. And rightly so, for City fans knew they were getting a superstar, and they loved it. United fans knew too, but they weren’t so happy for their neighbours.
His £32.5 million arrival was surrounded in controversy. In a press conference he referred to City as Chelsea, who were also interested in taking the Brazilian from Real Madrid. This sparked a fierce debate: did Robinho actually want to move to the blue half of Manchester? Was London his preferred destination? It did not matter, because his performances soon started to repay the massive fee spent on him and his first goal was unsurprisingly against Chelsea.
He finished his first season with 14 goals, City’s top scorer and fourth in the Premier League charts. Rumours about his unrest were swatted away. He loved Manchester he said. Hell, he even loved the weather (ok, maybe not). His goals and performances were used to highlight his willingness to stay past a solitary season.
But those rumours are no longer just Chinese whispers. Due to injuries and being part of an increasingly competitive squad, the Brazilian magician has struggled to gain a regular place on the pitch. With only 12 starts and just a single goal against Championship side Scunthorpe, he no longer has performances to fall back on. But his record of an assist every three games suggests he can still create that piece of quality when needed.
In the past couple of days the 26-year-old and his adviser have told Sky Sports News that a deal to head back to his former club Santos is “90% done”. Santos, though, who Robinho left for Real Madrid in 2005, cannot afford his astronomical £160,000-per-week wages, and only want to take him on loan. If a deal were to go ahead then City would still need to pay a large portion of his weekly fees and would only further demonstrate the power players hold over their clubs. Superstars such as Robinho, while fantastic to watch, can also cause numerous problems off the pitch. This could lead to a messy end to his time in England.
It is such a shame that in the build up to arguably City’s biggest game since their Division Two playoff final against Gillingham in 1999, their most naturally gifted player wants to walk out. The feel good factor around the club is building and the prospect of closing the gap on their biggest rivals is within grasp. An on form Robinho would be invaluable over the coming years. Sometimes such gifted players can never feel truly settled.
Robinho has two options. Stay and fight for his place, fulfilling the frightening potential we all know he has. Or go back to Brazil, back to his home. It seems as though the latter will be his choice. We shouldn’t begrudge him that, for when he was on form he was wonderful to watch. Unfortunately those occasions were less than abundant, for he just wasn’t cut out for the pace and power of the English game, nor the Manchester weather.