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The Brazilian failed in front of goal against the Catalans once more in midweek, and it's endemic of his form this term as the Rossoneri are still looking to strengthen up front

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By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor

Zlatan Ibrahimovic crosses low and hard from the left, Kevin-Prince Boateng drives it back into the area, and Robinho can’t miss. But he does … sidefooting over the bar from all of three yards. It’s AC Milan v Barcelona on November 23, and the Brazilian’s poor form continues. Still, it couldn’t get worse, could it?

Fast forward four months, and Barca are back at San Siro for a Champions League quarter-final first leg. This time, it takes just over two minutes for Robinho to go through his own personal hell in front of the same Curva Nord. Ibrahimovic’s header from Boateng’s deflected shot tees up the former Manchester City man perfectly, but his execution is abysmal and his volley flies high into the crowd from seven yards. Were it not for the kit change, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re watching a replay.

After his two goals in the round-of-16 mauling of Arsenal, the diminutive striker has quickly returned to the kind of form which has blighted his second season at San Siro. Following an impressive opening campaign, when he scored 14 league goals as Milan marched to the Scudetto, the Brazilian has slumped this time around, leading many to question whether he will join a long list of his countrymen who have failed to remain at the top of the game beyond the age of 28.

FLAT TRACK BULLY?

 2010-11 GOALS
GOALS
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
1
1
2
OPPONENTS
Chievo (H)
Napoli (A)
Palermo (H)
Sampdoria (A)
Brescia (H)
Bologna (A)
Bari (H) Coppa
Catania (A)
Parma (H)
Chievo (A)
Sampdoria (H)
Brescia (A)
Cagliari (H)
LGE. FINISH
11th
3rd

8th
18th
19th
16th
20th
13th
12th
11th
18th
19th
14th
 2011-12 GOALS
GOALS
1
1
1
1
1
2
1
OPPONENTS
Palermo (H)

Catania (H)
V. Plzen (A) CL
Novara (A)
Lazio (H) Coppa
Arsenal (H) CL
Cesena (A)
LGE. POS.
11th
7th
3rd
19th
3rd
3rd
20th
Former Rossoneri stars Kaka and Ronaldinho are among a number of samba stars who never reached the heights of their youth when heading towards their 30s, and Robinho now needs to prove he can still deliver. Except, has he ever really delivered?

The 2007-08 season apart, the Sao Vicente-born striker never lived up to the billing at Real Madrid, having first arrived from Santos in 2005 with a huge reputation. His subsequent move to Eastlands came as a result of him kicking up a stink in a bid to be free of the Spanish giants, but he suffered extended blips in form, having made headlines as the first 'super signing' of the Abu Dhabi era at Manchester United’s 'noisy neighbours'.

Before long he was begging to be sent to Milan after a loan spell back at Santos, where his productive 2010-11 won many people over, but even then his form was not always what the numbers would have you think. His 14 goals in Serie A included only two against top-half opposition, while he failed to hit the net in the Champions League and grabbed just one – at home to relegated Bari – in four Coppa Italia outings.

This term he has scored in convincing home wins over Palermo and Catania, two of the worst travelers in Italy, and in away victories against relegation favourites Novara and Cesena. And in the Champions League his only goal in the group stage came in the dead rubber away to Viktoria Plzen. As things stand, only a goal in the Coppa Italia against Lazio and his Arsenal double have come against opposition of any repute.

It’s a damning assessment of Robinho’s finishing. His all-round play in his debut season at Milanello was largely excellent, but the same cannot be said this term. As the champions have become more reliant on Ibrahimovic, Robinho’s performance level has dropped, and so the importance of the Swede has only increased further. It is a vicious cycle which the Brazilian doesn’t look like breaking any time soon.

And there’s a worrying backdrop to go with the Brazilian’s bad spell. With CEO Adriano Galliani still not giving up hope of eventually acquiring Carlos Tevez, Milan are clearly making moves to bring in a top-notch attacker. If that were to happen, Robinho could be seeking a move to another club.

He briefly experienced a spell on the bench after his arrival in Lombardy, but soon pushed Ronaldinho towards the exit door. If he was to find himself back in the dugout for any lengthy period, it would be under very different circumstances this time around.

As the club hierarchy search far and wide for new additions this summer, they may look upon Robinho as someone whose face no longer fits at San Siro. His performances need to improve and his finishing needs to be much more convincing if he is to win them over as they start to make plans for 2012-13.

As he heads to Sicily tonight with his Milan team-mates, his future is becoming increasingly scrutinised. After his two horrid moments against Barcelona, he owes the Catalans one on Tuesday too.

It’s a big week for the little Brazilian.

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