Robinho: Eagle or Canary?

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What do Fenerbahce and Besiktas chairmen Aziz Yildirim and Yildirim Demiroren have in common? No, not the ability to go 90 minutes without changing their facial expression. They are both in desperate need of a big signing to regain the faith of their respective club’s fans. The player of choice? None other than dummy-spitting, cold urticaria-suffering, twinkle-toed Robinho.

The Brazilian international is weighing up a move to Istanbul but is yet to decide on which side of the Bosphorus he’d prefer to wash up ('wash up' as in Robinho’s career rather than the quality of the Turkish Super Lig, or for that matter Istanbul’s coastline).

This is, after all, the same Robinho who spent three years as Real Madrid's No.10 and has amassed a total of £55million in transfer fees. The same Robinho who, at the age of 26, should be approaching his prime as a footballer. Instead, unwanted at Manchester City, Robbie is seemingly left with the choice of blue and yellow or black and white.

If Fanatik is to be believed (pah!), Robinho will be here by the middle of next week. The daily claims Besiktas are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for a sponsor to fund the deal, given that Demiroren has spent all his pennies on Ricardo Quaresma and Guti. Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor – literally translated as Istanbul Big-City Council-sport – has set the alarm bells ringing around the Inonu Stadium as fears of another trophy-less season kick in.

Hello goodbye? Mancini, Balotelli and Robinho

Anybody who witnessed the attempts of Quaresma & Co. to control a football on what can only be described as a campsite of a pitch would argue that money could be better spent elsewhere. Besiktas were poor and the performance of Schuster’s men in their first home game was suitably epitomised by the large brown stripe down the middle of the pitch.

In England the tune is a little different. The Daily Mail has suggested that City officials will meet with the dealmakers at Fenerbahce this week, with Fener able to meet the £20m price tag. Fenerbahce have had a successful summer in the transfer market, first stealing Miroslav Stoch from under the noses of Galatasaray before signing Issiar Dia and Mamdou Niang from Ligue 1 – two wingers and a striker to join Alex De Souza in a front four that could become a potentially lethal quartet.

This begs an obvious question: do Fenerbahce really need Robinho? The answer is a categorical no, and history can tell us why. When Nicolas Anelka joined from Manchester City in 2004, Fener fans thought they’d signed a star. In reality, Anelka was no more than his nickname ‘Le Sulk’ suggested, rarely caring about anything until he moved back to the Premier League.

Van Hooijdonk and Anelka for Fenerbahce. Happy days...

Robbie is of a similar mould – ridiculously talented but only when it suits him. Signing the Brazilian would not only cause unrest to a team beginning to settle, but also see a possible battle of egos between player and manager.

Nonetheless, both teams are battling it out for his signature – a move that might not seem so ridiculous in a few years’ time. There is no doubt a transfer to Turkey would be a step down from the Premier League, but it could benefit Robinho in the long run. The Super Lig offers a more open game with a tendency towards protecting attacking players. It could, potentially, be the wake-up call needed by the former hottest prospect in world football.

It would also shed light on the ever-increasing power and popularity of the Turkish Super Lig. Shirt sales would go through the roof and Robbie would find himself on the front of every cereal box, magazine and billboard in Istanbul.

This blog is still not convinced.

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