Robinho linked with Chelsea move
Chelsea are considering whether to renew their interest in Robinho despite the Brazilian's record £32.5m move to Manchester City at the end of August.
The club are examining the attacking options available to manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, with a realisation that it is an area of the squad that is vulnerable, and are still smarting over their failure to sign the 24-year-old striker during the summer.
The collapse of the move led to an acrimonious fall-out between the club's owner Roman Abramovich – who was furious having been led to believe the move would go through – and various agents and representatives involved in the deal. It also contributed to Robinho's decision to part with his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, who represented him for six years, and who, The Independent revealed in September, received £4.2m in commission for the transfer.
Robinho is now being looked after by his father, Gilvan de Souza, although there is no shortage of other agents wanting to involve themselves in the player's future and affairs.
There are major stumbling blocks to any potential deal, not least whether City, and their new owners Abu Dhabi United Group, would contemplate selling a player who is, at present, their star asset. Also any move for Robinho may have to wait until next summer, rather than the January transfer window, because of Article 5.2 of the Fifa rules on player registration which limits a player to one transfer per season.
There are various means to contest or appeal against this rule – as happened with Javier Mascherano's move from West Ham United to Liverpool – but they usually involve a player who has moved between continents, when seasons run at different time periods, or who is being prevented from playing. These factors do not apply in the case of Robinho.
Scolari, however, remains a strong admirer of the player who he regarded as vital to his plans this season. He was frustrated by the failure to sign Robinho although the blame has been pinned on agents rather than the player. Chelsea believed they had struck a deal for Robinho to arrive for £30m from Real Madrid – with the Spanish club resigned to selling – before City's dramatic intervention. Crucially, it is felt, the agent's cut of the transfer was significantly higher, more than £1m more, under the City deal.
Chelsea, and Scolari in particular, have continued to monitor Robinho's progress at City where he has scored six goals in eight League games, including a hat-trick against Stoke, although away from home he has been a less influential performer as his team has stuttered and supporters remain to be convinced. It is also felt by some of those close to Robinho that he is still a little shell-shocked by the astonishing collapse of his move to Chelsea and then his whirlwind transfer to City. He has been a restless player in the past, of course, and was regarded, while at Real Madrid, as being something of a prima donna.
If Chelsea receive any encouragement, from Robinho or from City, they may well pursue a deal and part of the discussions will be whether to include a player, such as Nicolas Anelka, a former City striker. Anelka has been Chelsea's main striker this season, with Didier Drogba injured and still returning to fitness, although he has failed to convince.
There are doubts whether Drogba, who is 31 in March, and who has been suffering from knee problems, will ever return to be the force he has been since his arrival in 2004. With Franco Di Santo, the 19-year-old Argentine, Chelsea's only other recognised striker, following the departures of Andrei Shevchenko and Claudio Pizarro, then Scolari's options are limited.