Roberto Mancini declared yesterday that Robinho could regalvanise his Manchester City career on loan back in Brazil, as the Sao Paulo club vied with Santos for his services.
The Portuguese side Benfica have withdrawn from any scramble to take the £32.5m man, with Manchester City insisting to both Brazilian suitors that they are not prepared to pick up any of his £160,000 a week wages if he leaves. As City met representatives of both clubs yesterday, Mancini cited the case of Robinho's compatriot Adriano, who was sent out on loan to Fiorentina, Parma and Sao Paulo by Internazionale and briefly flourished on his periodic returns to San Siro under Mancini's management.
"He had some problems in Milan, he went back to Brazil for six months and now he is playing well, he will play in the World Cup probably and is scoring many goals," Mancini said of the player – though the example is an inauspicious one from Robinho's perspective. Adriano, whom Thaksin Shinawtra once claimed he wanted to buy – to the bemusement of then City manager Sven Goran Eriksson, failed to turn up after last season's winter break. Eventually Inter lost patience and cancelled the striker's contract. He is now in Flamengo in his native country.
The practice of club sides bringing stars back to Brazil funded through sponsorship by local companies is becoming common though – Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, at Corinthians, and Fred at Fluminese are all examples. "If Robinho goes to Brazil and plays for Santos or Sao Paulo and plays well and goes to the World Cup and plays well I think he [can] come back here," Mancini insisted.
Mancini, who expects to have Emmanuel Adebayor on the bench and will assess today whether Kolo Touré is match ready having returned in the early hours from Ivory Coast's unhappy African Cup of Nations campaign, was relaxed about the potentially febrile atmosphere at Old Trafford. "Don't look back in anger! It's fantastic, Oasis," he said, with an immediate grasp of his new terrain. "It's important that we play calm. It's an important game but only a football match."
Mancini rejected suggestions that his chief executive Garry Cook's claims that City would become "the biggest and best club in the world" created extra pressure. "I'm not under pressure. This is our job," he said.