Robinho wants to know that City mean business

Brazilian star will seek assurances from manager Mark Hughes on Monday
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Robinho will demand to know which players Manchester City intend to sign before the end of the January transfer window when he meets manager Mark Hughes on Monday.

The Brazilian – who celebrates his 25th birthday tomorrow – is due to return to training with the rest of the first-team squad after which he will hold talks with Hughes about his recent actions, but will also put across his own concerns about the club's ambitions.

The striker faces punishment – the maximum fine he can receive is two weeks' wages – after walking out on the club's training camp in Tenerife and flying home to Brazil. Robinho later apologised while also insisting the row was a mix-up – he thought he been granted leave – and said he had to return to South America to deal with personal issues, although sources close to him confirmed earlier this week that he also wanted to attend birthday celebrations in Santos.

It is also understood that Robinho is not happy at City and is aware of the desire of Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was devastated to miss out on the player last summer, to take him to Stamford Bridge.

Although the failure to sign Kaka has not been directly responsible for Robinho's sense of unease it has not helped matters and he wants to hear from Hughes how City are going to attempt to improve the team. "He wants the team to get better and for better players to be there and also wants to pledge himself to the owners' project," a source said yesterday. City have already signed Wayne Bridge, for more than £11m, Craig Bellamy for £14m and Nigel De Jong for £17m and intend to add to their squad further.

The most likely targets remain Roque Santa Cruz, who would cost at least £20m, and £10m-rated Shay Given while a central defender is also required. It is expected that Hughes will tell Robinho that deals to sign two of the club's targets are close.

City, whose next match is at home to Newcastle United on Wednesday, after which they may try to tie up the signing of Given, are also interested in Didier Drogba but a bid has not yet been submitted and a deal is unlikely this month, unless the club would countenance Robinho going in the other direction which is not in their plans at present.

"We have spent good money in this window and that shows our intent," Hughes said yesterday. "People will view the Kaka deal as the be-all and end-all but it certainly isn't and we will continue to try and address weaknesses in the squad.

"It is possible that we will try and do more business before the window shuts but you can never be unequivocal about such matters because deals can fall at the final hurdle. We have expressed interest in a number of players but whether we can conclude those then only time will tell.

"It's well-documented that we have put in a number of bids for Santa Cruz [the highest is believed to be £16m]. He's a player I have worked with before and I think he can help us. Obviously it's been going on for some time now and it's obviously Blackburn's prerogative to turn down any offer we make. We are trying to move that process forward."

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has reiterated his determination to hold on to Santa Cruz but is understood to be on the lookout for a replacement should he eventually have to sell the Paraguayan striker and has already failed in a bid to take Barcelona's Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan for the rest of the season.

Comments