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Robinho set for January swap move to Barcelona?

Robinho will be the star turn in a £80 million swap shop centering on Barcelona and Manchester City in January, if intermediaries already working on the spectacular deal get their way.

• Turner: Early birds eye signings Robinho will be offered as a makeweight to lure some of Barcelona's biggest stars to Manchester City's relentless, ambitious, money-no- object push for Champions League football. Manchester City will offer Robinho plus cash to chose from the likes of Thierry Henry, Carles Puyol, Yaya Toure and Eric Abidal.

Barca have an array of superstars they could offer, but do not have the straight £32 million cash City would demand, in order to get their money back for the Brazilian they bought from Real Madrid.

A leading high-powered players broker close to Barca told ESPN Soccernet: "Robinho wants to go, and I think that City have had enough of him and would let him got. Barcelona want him but don't have the kind of money to tempt City, but do have plenty of players that would interest Mark Hughes. I can see a big swap deal in January."

Robinho has been a handful from the moment he joined City, and is reported to have thought he was heading to United when told Manchester had out-bid Chelsea on the transfer deadline just over a year ago. Now, Robinho has made it perfectly plain he wants to join Barca. and play alongside the treble-winning superstars at the Nou Camp.

Robinho has publicly stated his burning desire to join up with the likes of Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi. "Of course I'd enjoy playing for Barca." he told Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo. "Who wouldn't? We could have so much fun. It would be a pleasure to play alongside Messi, my compadre Dani Alves, Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, with them all.

"They're a great team. I played against them and know their quality. But right now I can only do it on the PlayStation."

The Brazil international insists neither he nor his agent - dad Gilvan de Souza - have been informed of any bid from Barcelona. But ESPN Soccernet has learned that Barca will equal the extortionate wages he earns at City. While there has been no direct deal struck by the clubs, the usual preliminaries are now underway to make Robinho's move back to Spain a reality.

However, City boss Mark Hughes' demands for new players to replace Robinho will ensure it will be a spectacular January transfer window, whether those players come from Barca or elsewhere.

Though Robinho insisted it would be "wrong to talk about this hypothetical transfer" until there was a formal offer, he could not resist heaping praise on the Catalans. "It is a pleasure to see Barca play, they seem to be like Brazilians in how they use the ball," he said. "Pep Guardiola's team are real entertainers."

Nou Camp boss Guardiola has concerns about his left flank. The club failed in bids for several players during the summer window and wants to rectify the situation this winter. Technical secretary Txiki Begiristain admitted that Robinho is an attractive option because he would not be cup-tied for the Champions League knock-out phase.

Barca and City are understood to have discussed the transfer of Robinho when they met in a friendly at the Nou Camp in August, but they could not come to an agreement then, but now seem sure to sort something out in the forthcoming two months ahead of the January window.

City were told that a part-exchange for Messi was out of the question and the 22-year-old Argentine has since signed a new contract until 2016 with a buy-out clause of £230 million. But other players mentioned were former Arsenal star Henry and veteran captain Puyol. Hughes would not be averse to losing Robinho, if he can bring players of that quality.

Robinho was the Abu Dhabi money men's impact signing on the day their buy-out was revealed in September 2008. City shelled out a British record £34m to take him from Real Madrid from under the noses of Chelsea's then chief executive Peter Kenyon, much to the annoyance of manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

"It is not a question of being loaned or transferred, whether in the winter or the summer," Robinho said. "It is a matter of sitting down and talking about it when there is a concrete offer, which, I repeat, I am not personally aware of. When that happens, we can talk. I don't want to be misinterpreted. It is clear that I have a contract with City and I owe it to them to be professional.

"It's no secret that there was clear interest from Barca (in the summer), but Manchester City would not enter negotiations. I believed that I was not transferable and so I focused on doing my best for City. We are thinking big, we have built a very strong team aiming to win the Premier League with (Carlos) Tevez, (Emmanuel) Adebayor, (Joleon) Lescott and (Gareth) Barry."

Brazil and Barca full back Dani Alves had said Robinho would be very welcome and would offer his team different options. Robinho replied: "Dani is a phenomenon. With Alves I have very good vibes. I am delighted with how well he has done at Barca. He deserves it, he's a great guy and excellent footballer. I am still up to date with Spanish football and left many friends in Spain. When I meet with many of them in the Brazil team we talk at length. We are used to exchanging text messages or calling each other."

Told he was admired by Guardiola, Robinho responded: "It is an honour that a coach such as him speaks highly of Robinho. I read that he values me. I thank him from the heart."


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