Doubts raised over Robinho deal

Manchester City feel under no obligation to take Robinho back to Eastlands, despite reports from Brazil that the sponsors who were to finance the £160,000-a-week player's wage at Santos may be struggling to do so.

City are looking into the reports, though the player's loan to Santos is no different to any other loan deal, which leaves the club under no obligation to take the player back before 4 August.

Santos announced in January they would fund Robinho's wages by lining up three major sponsors, all of whom would benefit from using the player's image. Reports in Brazil suggest one of those deals has fallen through and the other two – with shirt sleeve sponsor Seara and German car giants Volkswagen – have yet to be finalised, although Santos claim they are close to an agreement with Seara.

Robinho has been quoted in the Brazilian press as saying he wants to prolong his loan deal into next season but he has also extended the loan on his home in Cheshire, which suggests he is keeping his options open.

Robinho's form has been good when he has played but he continues to struggle with the minor injury problems which characterised much of his time in Manchester. He pulled out of last night's Brazilian Cup tie at Remo with a thigh strain. An initial diagnosis suggested that he would be fit to face New York Red Bulls in a friendly to open their stadium in New Jersey at the weekend, but he was ruled out of that game, as well as the next two league games.

Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira, who has made just five appearances since arriving at City from Internazionale in January, has declared his intent to play in every game until the season's finish as he attempts to secure a place in France's squad for the World Cup finals – starting with the visit to Fulham on Sunday.

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