MANCHESTER CITY have bid farewell to Robinho, knowing it is almost certain their record signing will never return to Eastlands.

In a short statement on the official club website, City effectively declared their ambitious £32.5m investment in the temperamental forward a failure by allowing him to join former club Santos on loan until August.

It ended a turbulent 18 months at Eastlands for the 25-year-old.

Robinho has never given any impression of being comfortable in Manchester since he joined in a staggering British record deal in August last year.

And, given his recent criticism of Roberto Mancini – who left him out of Wednesday night’s squad for the Carling Cup semi-final defeat at Old Trafford at the player’s own request – it is improbable he would return if the Italian was still at the helm next season, even though Mancini has talked optimistically of the player returning to the Blues next term.

It is a disappointing exit for a player who was City’s top scorer last term but whose 12 appearances this season have yielded just a single goal.

‘‘Robinho is someone who needs to be playing regularly and we wish him well for the period of his loan,’’ said Mancini, who knew the player wanted to leave to secure his place in the Brazil squad for this summer’s World Cup.

Although there will be some who will view the entire Robinho saga with a degree of merriment, releasing the player actually confirms the progress City have made since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in August last year.

At the time, with Sheikh Mansour desperate for a marquee signing, Robinho was the best option available given he had fallen out with Real Madrid, who in turn refused to sanction a transfer to his preferred destination, Chelsea.