Benfica and Santos vie for Robinho

Benfica have made an informal inquiry to Manchester City about a loan move for Robinho, ahead of a week in which the Brazilian club Santos will also try to raise the finances to take on part of his wage bill.

Robinho declared yesterday, ahead of scoring in possibly his last game for City, that Roberto Mancini's offer of playing every other game was unacceptable to him. City are in no hurry to release the player if the terms of a loan departure are not acceptable to them.

City chief executive Garry Cook, who will not now attempt to bring in Victor Moses from Crystal Palace, is expected to embark on detailed discussions with Santos today, though Benfica's interest reflects their ambition as a side with their sights on winning a Europa League and Portuguese championship double.

Robinho, who is 26 today, told Brazilian radio: "The coach was very sincere with me and said that I would play every other match. I told him that would not be interesting to me, it's a World Cup year." He was also disparaging about European coaches. "They choose a formation and want you to play in it, it doesn't matter if you are short or tall."

Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro said the club is negotiating with City, as they seek sponsors to fund the deal. The £32.5m man indicated he would take a reduction in his £160,000 salary if necessary. "To play with Santos again would be exceptional," he said.

Last night Mancini said he still hoped the player might stay. "When one player, Robinho or Tevez, work very well in the game, he can play always. It is a rule," he said. "I think Robinho stays here. I know that the next day the situation can change but at the moment he stays here and I am very happy for him today because he plays very well."

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