Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Robinho apologizes, Hughes dismisses Drogba swap rumor

AFP , LONDON

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has said Brazil star Robinho has apologized for leaving the Premier League club’s warm weather training camp in Tenerife without permission.

He also dismissed reports Robinho would be involved in a transfer window swap deal with Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.

Robinho flew home to Santos on a private jet and has since claimed he had to deal with a pressing family matter.

That has cut little ice with City officials who say the forward will be disciplined on his return to the club — Robinho rejoining the training camp has been ruled out because of the time-difference and travel constraints.

Hughes was adamant the 24-year-old’s walkout was in no way linked to the collapse of the deal to sign Robinho’s fellow Brazil star Kaka and a feeling the club’s grand ambitions are unlikely to be realized.

Robinho, City’s leading scorer this term after arriving at Eastlands in a British transfer record £32 million (US$44 million) deal in September from Real Madrid, is set to rejoin the squad upon their return to Manchester at the weekend.

He will be in contention to play for lowly City against Newcastle United on Wednesday, although by then he could have been fined a couple of weeks’ wages, worth around £200,000.

“He has apologized that he left without permission,” Hughes said. “He needs to be able to put his side of the story. I will put mine — and we will move on.”

City’s aborted bid for Kaka was preceded by failed attempts to sign Gianluigi Buffon, Thierry Henry and the Valencia pair David Villa and David Silva, it emerged on Thursday.

None of the moves got as far as the attempt to sign Kaka, with the players’ current clubs all quoting exorbitant prices in an attempt to make the most of City owner Sheikh Mansour’s personal fortune.

“We’re not anybody’s fool,” City’s executive chairman Garry Cook told reporters.

But any suggestion City do not overpay for players looks debatable.

This month they’ve spent a total of £40 million on Wayne Bridge, formerly Chelsea’s reserve left-back, Craig Bellamy, who has managed only five goals this season, and Nigel de Jong, who was their third choice for a new holding player behind Barcelona’s Yaya Toure and Lassana Diarra, who opted to join Real Madrid.

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