Robinho was last night at the centre of another of the controversies which have bedevilled Manchester City's trip to Abu Dhabi, as Brazil declared they may play him in one or both of the nation's internationals, against the club's express wishes.
City had agreed that the 25-year-old should make the 45-minute flight to Doha on Wednesday to allow Brazil to assess his fitness, with his exclusion from the match against England tomorrow and Oman in Muscat next week apparently a formality, considering that City manager Mark Hughes does not even expect his stress fracture of the ankle to be healed in time for the visit to Liverpool tomorrow week. City said he could stay on in the Brazilian camp, on the understanding he didn't play.
But two hours before Hughes's side played an exhibition match against a UAE national XI here last night, Brazil's team spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said the forward's services might be needed. "We know City want him with them but the situation for us is that we have only three games before the World Cup so we need Robinho," Paiva said. "This is a chance for the coach to talk to the players, to create the ambience, to discuss preparations for next summer. We need him with us. We don't need permission from City to play him. Robinho will be doing the same exercises as the other players but on the side. Whether he'll play will be assessed tomorrow."
After his side's defeat, Hughes said it would be "foolhardy" to play the £32.5m signing and that he had not heard Paiva's comments. "I am not aware of that. I can only give you what our doctor has been told," he said.
The issue has raised its head at the end of a week in which one of Robinho's advisers communicated the player's desperation to leave for Barcelona.