Robinho glad he returned to Brazil, wants to stay

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Robinho said Tuesday he was glad he decided to return to Brazilian soccer and reiterated that he wanted to remain at Santos after his six-month spell on loan from English club Manchester City expires in August.

Robinho believed his move back to Santos, where he started his career, in January was the main reason why he is in top form heading into this month's World Cup.

"It was a great decision," Robinho said. "What I wanted was to go to Brazil to prepare and be ready for the World Cup."

Robinho was used sparingly at City and was worried his lack of first-team action would harm his chances of being ready for the World Cup.

His loan deal at Santos ends in August but Robinho made it clear he wanted to stay longer.

"I'm not sure what to expect of my future yet but I hope to stay with Santos," he said.

A potential problem could be that City paid Real Madrid $58 million for Robinho, and Santos, or indeed any other Brazilian club, will struggle to afford that fee.

Santos was able to sign Robinho on loan only because the player reportedly took a pay cut and several sponsors got involved.

Robinho was City's first signing after Sheikh Mansour's takeover of the club but he did not hit the heights expected at the Premier League side, claiming he wasn't being used regularly by the coaches.

"I didn't even play that bad, I just didn't get the run (in the side) that I wanted," Robinho said. "Football in England is about strength; it's difficult for a Brazilian player to adapt to that."

Robinho's career skyrocketed after he led Santos to Brazilian league titles in 2002 and 2004. This year, he helped the team win the traditional Sao Paulo state championship and reach the Brazilian Cup final, which will be played after the World Cup.

"I've been playing well with Santos and that helped me get prepared for the national team," Robinho said.

The 26-year-old Robinho, who was a reserve on the 2006 team eliminated by France in the quarterfinals in Germany, will be one of Brazil's main players in South Africa.

"Robinho couldn't play the way he likes in Europe," Brazil midfielder Elano said. "But in this World Cup, he will have the chance to show he is one of the best in the world."