Friday, 19 December 2008

Santa Cruz news

Two pieces of news today suggesting that one of our January buys is going to be Blackburn Rovers' topically named striker, Roque Santa Cruz. It's well known that we bid first £12m then £14m for him in August, and even without ADUG could well have gone back in January. There's been talk of it ever since the takeover, particularly since Sam Allardyce's becoming manager at Ewood Park.

But today we learnt (via the uncharacteristically useful M.E.N.) that despite Blackburn's claim that they don't want to sell, there is a clause in Santa Cruz's contract allowing him to talk to any club who makes an offer of €18m (£17m). Provided we're still interested (I know Caicedo was good on Thursday but still...) our meeting that release clause is a formality.

The second thing was a bunch of quotes from Santa Cruz himself about a potential move:
"I am happy at Blackburn but also I want to keep improving my football and remain ambitious...But I am looking to again play in a big side that is in Europe and trying to win their league...But, I don't want to miss the chance of playing with a big side. If a bigger club came in for me then I would like to take that opportunity"
This doesn't sound much like City so far (in what sense other than the most obvious one are we 'trying to win our league'? Presumably he didn't mean the UEFA Cup Group A...). It's only later when he talks of his relationship with Mark Hughes that City fans get can excited.
"It is clear that he got me back to my (best) football after my injury problems at Bayern...He gave me confidence to play football again. Of course it is always a nice feeling to have a manager who is always backing you and I will always appreciate what he did for me."
The disparity between Santa Cruz's career pre, during and post-Hughes is striking. In his eight seasons at Bayern Munich (he joined them aged 18 in 1999), he managed 31 goals in 155 league appearances (38 in 188 in all competitions). He did struggle with injuries, but is not a very impressive record. But in his year at Blackburn with Hughes he got 19 in 37 in the EPL (only Ronaldo, Adebayor and Torres scored more), and 23 in 43 in all competitions. (I have literally no idea when last a City striker scored 19 top flight goals.) But under the Ince regime he managed just two in eight.

So he clearly enjoys playing for Mark Hughes And we need a striker. And he wants to leave. And we can afford him. I'm not very proud to say it, but it looks like Santa Cruz is coming to town.

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