Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has said Brazil star Robinho has apologised for leaving the English Premier League club's warm weather training camp in Tenerife without permission. He also dismissed reports Robinho would be involved in a January transfer window swop 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 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 realised. Robinho, City's leading scorer this term after arriving at Eastlands in a British transfer record 32 million pounds 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 City against Newcastle on Wednesday although by then he could have been fined a couple of weeks' wages, worth around 200,000 pounds.
"He has apologised that he left without permission," said Hughes. "He needs to be able to put his side of the story. I will put mine - and we will move on. There was a situation where 'Robby' thought he had permission to go. That was not the case.
"I expect him to be here, working hard and training with the team. It will be resolved very quickly when he comes back," Hughes added. "He was very apologetic - and he wants everyone to know he has been training on his own while he has been away and is looking forward to getting back."
Former Manchester United and Chelsea striker Hughes denied suggestions Robinho was about to join the Blues. Asked about the forward's City future, Hughes replied: "That's not up for debate." And as for Drogba, he said: "There's stories about every top player, until we make bids we can't talk about any other players."
Kaka no reason
Hughes also said claims Robinho's walk-out was prompted by City's failure to entice Kaka from AC Milan for what would have been a world record fee of some 100 million pounds, were wide of the mark. "'Robby' has come out and said he was on a plane to Brazil before the Kaka deal was dead and buried," Hughes told Thursday's Manchester Evening News.
Meanwhile Robinho, stressed his loyalty to City by telling his official website: "I have a good relationship with Mark Hughes and have always respected his decisions. He is the boss! I admire the Manchester City fans, who are true lovers of football and loyal to the players. I am looking forward to delivering as many goals as possible to help our team move to the next level".
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, was quoted as telling reporters.
But any suggestion City do not overpay for players looks debatable. This month they've spent a total of 40 million pounds 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 instead.