The saga of Robinho's transfer to Chelsea has descended into chaos, with Real Madrid accusing the Stamford Bridge hierarchy of sharp practice and the player publicly lambasting his own club. Chelsea were still hopeful last night of securing the Brazil winger before tonight's transfer deadline but they have refused to pay the £33m transfer fee demanded by Madrid.
In a strongly worded statement issued last night, Madrid accused Chelsea of underhand tactics and arrogance, after the club advertised replica shirts with Robinho's name on them despite the fact a deal had not been agreed. On the day of their first La Liga game of the season, Madrid said they "profoundly regretted" the behaviour of Chelsea and maintained their stance that they would not sell the player for less than their valuation.
Having grievances of their own from their transfer dealings with Madrid – especially over the sale of Arjen Robben last summer – Chelsea privately regard the latest comments from Madrid as an attempt to get as much money as possible for Robinho. The Brazilian (right) held his own press conference yesterday, and said Madrid were keeping him only because they had failed to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.
After Robinho's press conference Madrid said that the player had "completely ignored" their wishes but hinted they were prepared to let him leave. "If the player's final decision is to unilaterally rescind his contract then the club would have no choice but to accept that," a spokesman said.
"Madrid profoundly regrets the behaviour of the directors of Chelsea who, despite knowing that our decision was to not sell the player, have continued to make gestures and comments, even going so far as to sell the player's shirt on its website. All of which has served only to make the situation more difficult and mislead public opinion."
Given Madrid's conduct over Ronaldo this summer, those comments were not taken entirely seriously by Chelsea, who responded by saying that the replica shirt incident had been a genuine mistake. A club spokesman said: "There is nothing wrong with publicly confirming our interest in a player when the club involved is well aware of it, has been in receipt of bids and is negotiating to sell the player. We completely refute any criticism from Real Madrid.
"As for the issue regarding the website [advertising the Chelsea shirts adorned by Robinho's name], Real are well aware this was a regrettable accident by an external supplier which was rectified as soon as it was brought to our attention and not a single shirt was sold."
Earlier in the day, Robinho, who was not in Madrid's squad to face Deportivo La Coruña, said that he had even considered going on strike, so aggrieved was he at not being allowed to join up with Chelsea.
"If I have to spend a year without playing I will do it," he said. "I will recover because I'm young, I'm 24 years old, and it is destiny. [But] I am not going to refuse to play, I have a contract. If they made me play I would, but I would not be happy.
"Before I thought I would be here for 10 years, but now that is not possible and I only want to leave. The coach [Bernd Schuster] thinks that he can change my mind, but in my head I have joined Chelsea. Until now I have not had any problem with him [Schuster]. The president [Roman Calderon] and Mijatovic [Predrag, director of football] are allowing me to go, the club is in agreem ent with me, but not Schuster because he has promised to retain me. If he thinks this, it's his problem, I don't want to continue at Real Madrid."