Robson de Souza – known throughout the footballing world as Robinho – was perhaps the biggest surprise addition to Manchester City's squad in their much publicized quest to enter British football's elite. When the Brazilian signed from Real Madrid on the last day of the transfer window in the summer of 2008, it made everyone aware of the seriousness of the new club owners' intentions. This was a genuine superstar coming to the City of Manchester Stadium.
Robinho has always been earmarked for great things – even the incomparable Pelé eulogised about him as a fifteen year old. Playing for the famous Santos club which the legendary Pelé had represented for so long, 'Robi', who had been born in Sao Paulo in 1984, quickly became their goalscoring talisman. The kidnapping from her home of his mother in the 2004/05 season, though, had a real impact on his life – even though she was released unharmed it then seemed inevitable that he would leave the country and join other prominent Brazilian players in Europe. At the end of the 2004/05 season, the player was named as the World Soccer Young Player of the Year.
The move came in July, 2005, when Robinho signed for Real, going on to score 10 goals in his first season. Although his undoubted skill was always evident at this time, it was also clear the player was having difficulties adapting to life, and the different style of football, at his new club. With Fabio Capello and, later, Bernd Schuster, Robinho was never really a regular starter for the Spanish team, even though he continued to be in the Brazil team.
The player's time in Spain came to a distasteful conclusion. Madrid tried to include Robinho as a 'makeweight' in the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, against the player's wishes. When the deal fell through and the Madrid hierarchy decided to offer him a new contract, Robinho refused it.
Despite looking as if he was about to sign for Chelsea, Robinho ended up at Eastlands and Manchester City, seemingly encouraged to join the club because they already had two other Brazilians on the books, Elano and Jo.
Since signing for Manchester City, Robinho has become very popular with the supporters – a popularity helped when he was seen with his wife going into the city on a bus! Many critics felt, during his first season, that his performances were very much better in games at Eastlands than in matches played away from home. Despite this, he scored 15 goals in 41games. This season, however, with the squad having been greatly boosted with the acquisition of more high class players, Robinho has been the victim of a bad ankle injury picked up playing for Brazil and so has missed most of the fixtures.
With Brazil, Robinho remains an important member of the team, scoring 19 goals so far in his 71 internationals, and he is almost certain to be integral in Brazil's attempts to win the World Cup in South Africa in the summer.
For whom Robinho will be playing then is really anybody's guess! Ever since his arrival, it seems he has been linked with moves away. Manchester City continually deny that he is on his way to Barcelona, Chelsea or any other number of clubs. City fans, certainly, will be hoping to see the skilful little striker linking up with Adebayor and Tevez to help the club realize their ambitions and qualify for next season's Champions League.
Who Knows? If they do succeed, then perhaps Robinho might be there again next season.