Benfica are refusing to enter a pre-contract agreement for their winger Angel di Maria in the hope that his performances in next year's World Cup for Argentina will trigger an auction.
Though Manchester City have no intentions of bringing the player in during the January transfer window, a pre-contract agreement represents one way of providing Benfica with some security for the summer in respect of the 21-year-old. But the Portuguese league leaders have no intention of tying themselves to such a deal. Only a huge offer would be enough to draw the player away any sooner as the €14m (£12.3m) release clause in the player's contract does not comes into play until the summer.
Robinho, who flies back to Manchester tomorrow, played no role for Brazil in the friendly against Oman in Muscat last night, averting a difficult meeting with Mark Hughes on his return.