Speculation over the future of 20-year-old
Brazilian forward Robinho was quickly revived on Friday with new reports
appearing just hours after the end of his mother's 40-day kidnapping
The transfer talk was put on hold after Marina de Souza, 43, was
snatched by two armed men from a barbecue she was attending in the
Santos neighbourhood of Praia Grande on November 6.
She was released on Friday morning and had barely been reunited with her
son Robinho before the Estado News Agency reported that Spanish giants
Barcelona wanted to sign him.
European clubs, with Real Madrid almost inevitably heading the pack, had
been falling over themselves to get their hands on the 20-year-old
forward, who is regarded as the best player left in his homeland, until
His agent Wagner Ribeiro has suspended all negotiations which, according
to media reports, have also at various stages included Atletico Madrid,
PSV Eindhoven, Benfica and Chelsea.
Earlier this week, Ribeiro was quoted as saying the kidnapping was
likely to speed up Robinho's departure for Europe.
"We can see that Robinho's not going to be comfortable staying in Brazil.
I'm jealous of the Spanish, who live so peacefully. In Brazil, I'm
afraid of everything," he told Brazilian media.
Robinho has not played since the kidnapping but has been training
regularly and is being considered by coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo for the
decisive Brazilian championship match against Vasco da Gama on Sunday,
the last game of the season.
Santos lead the competition by one point from Atletico Paranaense and
will win the title for the second time in three years if they beat Vasco.
The kidnapping came at a time when Robinho, full name Robson de Souza,
had rediscovered the touch that made him the sensation of Brazilian
football two years ago.
He burst on to the scene as an 18-year-old during the 2002 season and,
along with 17-year-old team mate Diego, who is now with European
champions Porto, inspired Santos to the first Brazilian championship
title since it began in 1971.
Robinho's cheeky dribbling skills delighted admirers and infuriated
opponents in equal measure.
Pele, who spent 17 years of his career at Santos, said he was reminded
of himself when he first saw Robinho as a 15-year-old playing in the
Santos junior teams.
"This lad takes me back to the start of my career," he said.
Gremio goalkeeper Danrlei, on the other hand, publicly warned the
teenager that he risked getting his leg broken if continued to humiliate
"Players get angry when they get dribbled (past) all the time," said
Danrlei after his team lost 3-0 to a Robinho-inspired Santos. "He could
end up having his leg broken."
Robinho took no heed and quickly made the "pedalada", or stepover, his
Brazilian television endlessly replayed a move in that year's Brazilian
championship final against Corinthians when Robinho performed eight
stepovers as he provoked an opponent into giving away a penalty against
Two months later, Robinho was given a standing ovation by a rival crowd
in the Colombian city of Cali after leading Santos to a 5-1 win over
local side America in the Libertadores Cup.
Almost inevitably, however, the publicity caught up with him and
At the start of this year, Robinho was in the Brazilian under-23 team
that astonishingly failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Athens.
A 1-0 defeat by Paraguay in Brazil's final match sent their smaller
neighbours to Athens instead along with Argentina.
Robinho and Diego were accused of overconfidence, especially after the
former was photographed dropping his shorts at the team hotel before the
start of the tournament.
Brazil slunk home and Robinho went through a quiet patch.
However, as this year's Brazilian championship has progressed, Robinho
has rediscovered his touch.
His dribbling is slightly less cheeky than it was but he has become much
sharper in front of goal and, despite six weeks out of action, he is
still Santos's joint top scorer with 21 goals.