Mark Hughes may be trying to keep his January transfer ambitions under wraps but his prime asset, Robinho, appeared last night to reveal that the City manager is interested in Benfica's Brazilian central defender Luisao.
The 26-year-old, who was on Portsmouth's radar last summer, would provide the defensive reinforcement Hughes is known to be looking for and Robinho revealed that he has made his own suggestions for City's back four. "I have suggested Kleber, the Santos left back and Thiago Silva who plays at centre back for Fluminense, who's been playing very well," he said. "The coach mentioned Luisao." Kleber is an attack-minded 28-year-old left wing-back but the highly rated Silva seems a more likely prospect – even though both Internazionale and Milan are believed to be pursuing him, with the player reportedly keener to join his compatriots Kaka and Ronaldo at Milan.
Hughes was pleased to be told last week that Kaka has discussed the idea of joining City with both Robinho and City's Elano and the Milan player is top of Robinho's own wishlist of players. "Who would I sign? If I could choose it would be Kaka and [former Brazil player] Ronaldo," he said. "But at this moment the team needs to improve the defence. When you build a house you have to start from the floor. You have to start from the bottom, the defence, and then you fix the attack. We have good players but if the club wants to be big, we have to sign more."
Another of Robinho's compatriots, Rafael da Silva, played his part in limiting his influence in Sunday's Manchester derby defeat for City, taking them within two points of the relegation zone, but they must rid themselves of "the mentality of a small side", as he sees it. "City are content with just finishing fifth or sixth," the 24-year-old said. "They are content with little, thinking just a draw might be good enough. They lack the mentality of champions. I have learnt that being second is worthless so I want to inspire a winning mentality.
"You can only be content with winning. You need to want to beat Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Maybe I have changed this a bit but now City have a project to become big, the mentality has to change."
The Serbia winger Zoran Tosic expects to join Manchester United in January now that he has been granted a work permit, after a personal tribunal appeal by Sir Alex Ferguson. "I was told that about 10 days ago that Manchester had sent a request for my work permit which is now granted," the 21-year-old Partizan Belgrade player said yesterday. Sources in Belgrade suggested the transfer fee is around £2.9m. Tosic, who has made 12 international appearances and impressed at the Beijing Olympics, can play on either flank. He is a free-kick specialist and has been nicknamed "Bambi" because of his slight build.
Another Serbian talent, Adem Ljajic, a 17-year-old dubbed the "Serbian Kaka", is also thought to be in talks with United. The Partizan midfielder – considered the most promising Serbian youngster – had been training at Old Trafford this summer, and is expected to join when he turns 18 next year.