Goal.com's countdown to the greatest player of 2008 continues with the man involved in the shock transfer of 2008: it's Robinho...
49 - Javier Zanetti - Internazionale, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahçe, Super Lig - Score: 1089
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Olympique Lyonnais, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Román Riquelme - Boca Juniors, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1064
44 - David Silva - Valencia, Primera Division - Score: 1060
42 (T) - Thierry Henry - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
42 (T) - Daniel Alves - Sevilla, Primera Division / Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
41 - Antonio Cassano - Sampdoria, Serie A - Score: 1028
40 - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - Ajax Amsterdam, Eredivisie / Real Madrid, Primera Division - Score: 1027
39 - Ricardo Carvalho - Chelsea, Premier Division - Score: 1025
38 - Samuel Eto'o - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1017
37 - Philipp Lahm - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1009
36 - Javier Mascherano - Liverpool, Premier League - Score: 1008
35 - Julio Cesar - Internazionale, Serie A - Score 1000
34 - Robinho - Real Madrid, Primera Division / Manchester City, Premier League - Score: 970
Robinho was signed by Real Madrid in 2005 touted as the next big thing; yet another Brazilian sensation; a Galactico in the making - but things didn't exactly go according to plan in the end.
He joined a club in descension, on its way down from being the very best to an undisputed embarrassment for every great player who took to the field every week in the famous white shirt. Robinho wasn't considered one of those greats at the time, but perhaps equally tragic was the adverse effect it had on his development and potential as a player, which was very nearly destroyed due to the disorder at the club. Ultimately, Robinho failed to transform his immense ability into match-winning performances for Real Madrid.
His indiscipline saw him dropped by Fabio Capello when he took over in 2006. The youngster learnt the error of his ways and fought hard, along with David Beckham, to get back in the first team, playing a key role in what was eventually a miraculous title win. Miraculous though it may have been, Don Fabio was not seen as a fit for the side and was controversially sacked, and new coach Bernd Schuster turned out to be the man to finally unlock little Robson's potential, if only for a few months.
It was approximately a year ago when the Brazilian superstar was well and truly in what could be described as Ballon d'Or form, and only two injuries in fairly quick succession stopped him at least coming close to contending with eventual winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, for the award.
And indeed Ronaldo was his nemesis in more ways than one, as it was Madrid's interest in the Manchester United megastar that unearthed Robinho's insecurity and feelings of inadequacy; rumours in the press began circulating over the summer that the Merengues would use Robinho as a commodity in a part-exchange deal to land Portuguese international Ronaldo. Robinho, 'ill-advised' by agent Wagner Ribeiro, according to club president Ramon Calderon and then-coach Bernd Schuster, began an audacious campaign to leave the Spanish champions, with Chelsea ready and waiting to swoop for his services. The Blues ended up going too far - advertising the sale of Robinho shirts before the deal had been done - and Real refused to sell to them with transfer deadline day looming.
Just two hours before the transfer window was to slam shut, out of the dark stepped Manchester City, fresh from a middle-eastern takeover that made them far and away the world's richest club. They offered a British record transfer fee of €42.5 million (£32.5m) to Real Madrid for Robinho, and with the player knowing he had gone too far to turn back and his first choice move of Chelsea all but out of the question, he took up the City offer and ended up at 'Middle-Eastlands'. Just days later, he fired his agent - 'ill-advised' indeed.
Such a glamorous name on the back of a City shirt is a thought still completely and utterly incomprehensible to many, but the 24-year-old took to his new surroundings and expectation seamlessly, at the centre of a Citizens outfit eager to prove themselves, he put in some dazzling displays and has already rattled in 12 goals for his new club in just 16 appearances - a far better rate than he had ever managed in his career prior to now.
Without doubt, 2008 was a rocky year for Robinho, but also his very best yet. He has now announced himself - albeit bizarrely - on the world stage, and his price tag has gained him the attention he craves.
City, however, are struggling. They find themselves in the relegation zone - possibly due to newfound expectations - and many a star name have laughed off supposed interest from the club, despite the massive amounts of money on offer for those who would choose to join them.
Does Robinho have to move on in order to work his way up this list in 2009? No. But to come top of it? Almost certainly.
La Liga - 2008
Supercopa de Espana - 2008
Sulmaan Ahmad, Goal.com