With Milan’s intentions to sell no secret, Orlando have been courting the 30-year-old Brazilian playmaker for several months, with Brazilian majority-owner Flavio Augusto da Silva looking to capitalise on the city’s sizeable expat population from his homeland.
Currently playing in the US third tier, Orlando will join MLS for the 2015 season, after being announced as the league’s 21st franchise last November, and are in the midst of building their roster for their debut campaign.
They were rumoured to be facing competition from the LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, fellow expansion side New York City FC and Brazilian outfit Flamengo for Robinho’s services, but the Florida-based club now look by far the favourites to land the Selecao international.
With Milan CEO Adriano Galliani confirming that negotiations with Orlando are ongoing, the diminutive forward is under contract with the Italian giants until June 2016, suggesting that a transfer fee is the one thing preventing a deal from being reached.
Formerly one of the most highly-rated youngsters in world football at the time of signing for Real Madrid from boyhood club Santos in July 2005, Robinho would score 35 times in 135 appearances for the Spanish side over the following three seasons, until a contract dispute saw him sold to Manchester City in September 2008 for £33 million.
After a successful first season in England, consisting of 15 goals in 41 games, his second campaign was hit by injury and poor performance, ultimately forcing a six-month loan move back to Santos, before transferring to the Rossoneri on a permanent deal in August 2010.
A veteran of both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup campaigns, the 92-time capped Robinho, who originally made his international debut in 2003, returned to the side in 2013 after a two-year hiatus but was ultimately not included in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad for this summer’s tournament.
Upon joining Orlando, it’s expected that he, like Kaka, would spend the fall months on loan with another club, before returning in January for pre-season training, as the MLS side gear up for their inaugural top-flight campaign.
Robinho may well be past his best but, given his past track record, his signing would certainly prove a major coup for both the club and the league as a whole, at a time when the game’s profile in the USA is at an all-time high.