city deny Rift

De Souza Robinho, Manchester City. © Unknown.
De Souza Robinho, Manchester City. © Unknown.

LONDON - Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has played down reports of a rift between himself and Robinho.

LONDON - Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has played down reports of a rift between himself and Robinho.

In January, the 25-year-old Brazilian playmaker was fined for leaving the club's training camp on the Spanish island of Tenerife without permission.

Rumours of the duo's poor relationship have persisted - along with reports that Robinho will leave in the summer.

But Hughes told BBC Radio 5 Live: "The truth is it's a lot closer to being a lot calmer than people would imagine."

Robinho joined City for a British record R450million in September and signed a four-year deal.

He got off to a great start, scoring 12 goals before the end of the year, but has yet to get off the mark in 2009 and made that unscheduled departure in January by flying home to Brazil without telling Hughes that he had to attend some "family business".

"There's a perception that there are issues between me and Robinho and Robinho and his team-mates and that everything is doom and gloom and the dressing room is fractured," said Hughes.

"We have all the predictable stories emanating from outside parties but it's calmer than people would imagine."

The forward has also been linked with a move away from Eastlands at the end of the season but Hughes is not ready to sell.

"Robinho is in my plans long term. People who say otherwise are just being mischievous," he insisted.

"He is an outstanding player who wants to be part of what we are doing but he is also a professional football player and he doesn't enjoy getting beaten." - BBC

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