Transfer target Messi was beyond Manchester City, says Robinho

Lionel Messi Barcelona
Getty Images
Sheikh Mansour had wanted to sign the Argentine from Barcelona - but Robinho says he got close to capturing another Ballon d'Or winner

Robinho has claimed Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour told him the club would sign both Kaka and Lionel Messi.

Exciting forward Robinho, lured from Real Madrid to the blue half of Manchester in September 2008, was the first major arrival after the club was taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

City 7/5 to beat Leicester to nil

The Brazilian initially shone at Eastlands but then struggled for consistency and returned to boyhood club Santos on loan before moving to AC Milan.

Now back home and playing for Atletico Mineiro, the 33-year-old is gratified to see City leading the Premier League and playing good football after some early, optimistic transfer plans did not come to fruition.

"I spoke a few times with the owner Sheikh Mansour," he told the Daily Mail .

"He told me he was going to go big to get Kaka and Lionel Messi. Kaka was close. But Messi... I think Messi was beyond them. 

Robinho Jo

"But I believed in the project. The Sheikh had the ambition to create the best team in the world and now look at them. They have the best manager in the world in Pep Guardiola and can go toe-to-toe with anyone."

Robinho also claims his reputation for enjoying an active social life away from the pitch in Manchester was somewhat unfair.

"There was an image of me as a party guy," he said.

"And yes, I liked to party. But you know, the English boys were going out more than the Brazilians! Joe Hart was out all the time, Micah Richards the same, Shaun Wright-Phillips was always out! 

"But when the Brazilians went out we were always caught."

Robinho Manchester City

Robinho has not played for Brazil since a friendly against Colombia in January to raise funds for the victims of the Chapecoense air crash, but he remains available for selection ahead of next year's World Cup.

Article continues below

"If the manager Tite calls me, I will be over the moon," he said.

"We [Brazil] have to set the world to rights. Sheesh, Germany. It was one of those: 'Where were you?' moments," he added, referring to the team's 7-1 loss to the eventual champions in the semi-finals on home soil in 2014.

"I was in my friend's house. It was the hardest football blow this country has taken."