Is Guardiola the man to tame Robinho?
“Of course I would like to play for Barca, who wouldn’t? We could have a lot of fun. It would be a pleasure to play with Messi, with my colleague Alves, with Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, with all of them. They are a brilliant team.
“I have played against them and I know their quality. But at the moment I can only do it on my Playstation.”
Manchester City’s gifted but controversial Brazilian forward Robinho was thus quoted in Barcelona-based newspaper El Mundo Deportivo on Thursday.
Sport reported on Tuesday the deal would cost Barca 3.2 million euros ($4.8 million) and they would assume the payment of his current annual salary of 6.2 million.
A transfer had also been mooted, according to Sport, that would see Barca pay City 35 million euros and Robinho agree a contract through 2014.
Robinho, full name Robson de Souza, told El Mundo Deportivo he knew nothing about a possible deal.
“I assure you that as of this moment my father, who is my only representative, has not told me anything about Barca,” he said.
“Out of respect for Manchester City, which is my team, it should be the two clubs that talk about my loan or transfer and then tell me.
“It’s not right to talk about this hypothetical transfer or loan until there is something more concrete. I repeat: I don’t know anything, believe me.”
Robinho has been dogged by controversy on his journey from Brazil to Manchester via Real Madrid.
The word “unsettled” has stuck to him throughout his career but Sport reckons he wants to spend the second half of the season at Barca as a springboard for next year’s World Cup in South Africa.
City’s assistant manager, Mark Bowen, has said the club want to hold on to him but made it clear he will have to fight for his place in the side when he returns from injury. He has been sidelined since August with a stress fracture and Craig Bellamy has impressed on the left wing in his absence.
“Robi is one of those players who will always be surrounded by rumour and speculation,” Bowen said on the club’s website .
Guardiola is known for his man-management skills but his decision to sell Samuel Eto’o showed he is ready to stand up to anyone who threatens dressing-room harmony.
With France forward Thierry Henry out of sorts, Robinho could be deployed on the left wing to create a formidable forward line with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Argentina forward Lionel Messi.
El Mundo Deportivo said Henry was open to returning to England and could form part of a swap deal.
Sporting director Txiki Begiristain has said Barca are looking to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window.
“He (Robinho) is a very interesting footballer and could play (for us) in the Champions League,” he told Sport.
The paper has rowed back somewhat from their banner headline on Saturday of “Robinho loan deal in January” to Thursday’s “He wants to come to Barca” but the prospect of Robinho, Ibrahimovic and Messi tearing defences apart is a mouthwatering one.
PHOTO: Brazil’s Robinho stands of the field before the World Cup 2010 qualifying soccer match against Argentina in Rosario, September 5, 2009. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci