1 August ~ If my boss offered me my current salary to come into the office, take it easy all day and not do any work, would I want it? It sounds idyllic – no pressure, no stress and nothing to worry about other than how to spend my earnings at the end of the month. But while it might sound tempting, it would become quite boring fairly quickly. Maybe if I had a monthly wage of £750,000 to spend, the days would go a little quicker. Totting up ways of spending his fortune could soon be the only work done by the most expensive footballer in Britain.
Robinho, bought by Manchester City for £32.5 million two summers ago, now faces the choice of either sitting in the stands or playing for the club who shelled out all those millions to buy him. The player became disillusioned by the Premier League fairly early on in his City career, and was loaned out to the Brazilian club Santos in January for the second half of last season. But now that this loan has expired, City want to recoup some of their investment.
Robinho would prefer to remain in Brazil with Santos – where he has been a success – but they can't afford his transfer fee or wages. He is also known to hanker for a move to Barcelona but, with most of the World Cup-winning team and Lionel Messi on their books, they don't need him. No other club seems both able and willing to bid for Robinho. So he has little choice but to remain in a city which is not his "home" with a manager he feels "lacks ability".
Although City don't particularly want or need him, they don't want to offload him for less than he is worth. They could afford it financially, but it would set a dangerous precedent for other star players who fail to settle in northern England. So one of Brazil's stand-out performers from the World Cup faces the choice of either working for his paycheck or sitting on the sidelines at Eastlands in the hope that his billionaire owners will cut their losses on him in January.
It's difficult to sympathise with the "project" that is the new Manchester City Football Club. But when it comes to Robinho, the player seems more soulless than the club. When he wanted to escape Real Madrid he did not have to sign for City. Brazilian forwards who can light up World Cups do not need to look for employment with teams that finish ninth in the Premier League. Robinho moved for the money. A team that offered him the excitement of Champions League finals and Premier League trophies would not need to pay him so extravagantly. But Robinho was happy to became the highest paid footballer on the planet. He just failed to foresee the fairly obvious cost – that he would have to live in Manchester and play for City for four years.
After a World Cup that showed up the hype surrounding England's so-called "golden generation", it would be nice to see one of the Premier League's genuinely world-class players perform this season. Maybe a successful run of games at City could even earn him the move to a more homely club in Spain he clearly desires. City look set to spend more on transfer fees this summer than the other 19 League clubs combined, but it would be a shame to see Robinho sat in the stands. Picking up a payslip at the end of the month without having to work for it might seem like a no-brainer. But when you can play football like this guy can, surely it would be too much of a waste to sit in a directors' box every Saturday afternoon. Graeme Higgins