Barca confident of Robinho deal - but Hughes insists the star's staying put
Barcelona insiders believe the signing of Robinho from Manchester City is 'in the home straight' after five months of talks between the two clubs. It is claimed the transfer was almost completed in August, only for the Premier League club's Abu Dhabi owners to veto the sale of a player who had represented the impact they wanted to make in England. However, City boss Mark Hughes is adamant that Robinho has a long-term future at Eastlands. 'There is always speculation and noise surrounding Robinho,' said Hughes. 'That has been the case since he came to the club. 'He is a great guy. We are not in the process of taking outstanding players out of the team. We want to complement the outstanding players at the club. We are looking to build, not dismantle.' Robinho was signed from Real Madrid for a British record £34millionon September 1 last year within hours of the Middle East takeovercoming to light. Selling him so soon could signal a retreat from ambitions to be oneof Europe's elite clubs, but Robinho has too often been disappointingin a blue shirt and is no longer considered a first choice. City owner Sheik Mansour is now reported to be ready to sanction a January deal that would see the 25-year-old move on loan for the second half of the season, followed by a permanent switch next summer for about £33million. A sticking point would be on whether a similar big name will move the other way. City are keen on Thierry Henry, Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal - and, of course, Lionel Messi - but Barca technical secretary Txiki Begiristain would prefer a straight deal. However, Catalan newspaper Sport says the minor details of the transfer will not stand in the way of a transfer that is now entrusted in the hands of lesser officials at the club after high-level discussions since the summer. City boss Mark Hughes, chief executive Garry Cook andfootball administration officer Brian Marwood are reported to have cometo an agreement the deal with Sheik Mansour and club chairman KhaldoonAl Mubarak on a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates. City and Barca enjoy a good boardroom relationship and have been increasing ties, which led to a friendly between the two clubs at the Nou Camp in August. Barcelona have settled on Brazil international Robinho after conceding that France and Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery is likely to move to Real Madrid next summer.
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