The Brazilian striker Robinho's disaffection with Manchester City is reflected in his willingness to take a significant pay-cut in order to re-join Santos this month so that he can stake his case for a World Cup place this summer. With Robinho expected to leave, Roberto Mancini would like to sign the midfielder Thiago Motta on loan. The Brazilian who has an Italian passport would be Mancini's second signing from his former club Internazionale after Patrick Vieira.
Robinho's father Gilvan de Souza is expected to meet with officials from City and Santos today to come to an agreement on a loan deal. The biggest problem for the Brazilian club, who sold Robinho to Real Madrid in 2005, is how they finance the wages of a player earning £160,000-a-week.
Robinho has accepted that he will not be able to demand those kind of wages from Santos who have said that they will try to fund his salary independent of their usual budget, by selling sponsorship deals.
City will not charge Santos a loan fee but equally they are not prepared to subsidise Robinho's wages while he is in Brazil. That means that Santos must find a way of paying for the prodigal son to return and they plan to do so using the same business model as the Brazilian club Corinthians have created to bring Ronaldo, the Brazil World Cup-winner, back home.
Ronaldo earns around £102,000 a week, of which 80 per cent comes from Corinthians' shirt sponsorship deals. The deal is far greater than any wages paid to his team-mates but is regarded as a success in Brazil because it has enabled the club to bring back one of the country's most famous players.
Santos are not even regarded as the highest payers among Brazilian clubs. They rely more on producing their own players and the highest-paid members of their squad are Leo, a left-back who recently returned from Benfica, and goalkeeper Fabio Costa who both earn around £11,000-a-week.
Santos want to sign Robinho on loan for a year, while City want him to go for six months with a view to selling him in the summer. They are also likely to be offered first refusal on Santos's young players Neymar and Paulo Henrique Gamso, both of whom played for the Brazil Under-20 team that got to the World Cup final in October in that age-class.
In an interview with the Brazilian television station TV Globo yesterday, Robinho said: "It's all on the right track. Santos are looking at the duration of my loan. Santos want a year, but City want just six months. It's 90 per cent certain. In two or three days it should be sealed."
There has been some interest from the Portuguese club Benfica but City are not taking that seriously. However, they do believe that Santos are not the only Brazilian club interested in exploring a way of bringing Robinho back to his home country, although they are the player's preference.
The Santos press officer Arnaldo Hase said the Brazilian club have sent two representatives to Manchester for talks with City. "There will be a meeting [today] that may be decisive for good or for bad. City would accept a six-month loan, Santos want to negotiate for six months or longer, but we will be happy if the deal is closed for six months," Hase said.
"Under our proposal, Santos would pay Robinho's wages. The player already said to us he is open to earn less here than in Manchester. If everything works out well, Robinho could be a really cheap signing for Santos because we have a lot of partners interested in financially supporting Robinho's return."
The deal is expected to be resolved before City play Manchester United in the second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final tomorrow. By then they also hope to have defender Kolo Touré back following the Ivory Coast's elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations by Algeria. Emmanuel Adebayor is not expected to play, although he has returned following his compassionate leave.