DURBAN // The signing of Emmanuel Adebayor will raise the stakes for a striking spot at Manchester City even higher, but Roque Santa Cruz, who will be in the running for one of those spots, says it could be another decisive move in the club's bid to break into the top four of the Premier League. City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, are determined to compete with Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal for a Champions League place next season.
And Santa Cruz says the arrivals of Adebayor and Carlos Tevez from Arsenal and United respectively will help City bridge the gap that divides the top four clubs from the rest. The Paraguay international, the third top striker to be recruited by Mark Hughes this summer, added: "It's always a nice factor to have such a great player joining the team like Adebayor. "Besides him, we also have Tevez. He and Adebayor are a great improvement for our attack.
"We have brought in great strikers from teams who will also be challenging for one of those top four places, like Manchester United and Arsenal. "We are increasing our strength and taking away good players from them at the same time. So you are weakening them and that's the aim. "They will always get new players and try to replace the ones who have left, but we have to show we are as good as them or better."
With their physical presence, Santa Cruz and Adebayor may be similar in their styles, but the former Bayern Munich forward feels they can still team up together. "When you have such a talented squad you can play and make partnerships with any of the strikers," he said. "I am sure at times we will be playing together. You have a lot of physical teams in the Premier League so I won't be surprised if, for those games, they go with the two of us.
"We still like to play football too so it won't affect the team's style of play, but it will give us important physical presence." With Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Valeri Bojinov, Felipe Caicedo and Benjani also in contention for a striking role, Santa Cruz says the competition should encourage everyone to raise their game to claim a first-team spot. "The one thing I learned at Bayern is that every season there are going to be people complaining and people who are not happy with the situation [about playing regularly]," he added.
"But that comes with being successful and tells other people to raise their game. You have to use any frustration in the right way. You will have a challenge to do things that were better than what you were doing, so you can have the chance to play." Adebayor, who will join up with the team on their South African tour tomorrow, says he was motivated to join City by their ambition and that a top-four place is a realistic target this season.
"We have everything we need," he said. "The chairman and everyone at City want this club to be one of the best in the world. We will fight to be that. "I want to win silverware and trophies. That is my ambition. People who think that I have joined City for the money are wrong. If I had made a move for that reason then I would have been playing for Barcelona or Milan last season. They gave me bigger offers than Arsenal did for me to stay."
With an abundance of attackers, Hughes will now look to add to the defence. Despite having bids rejected, John Terry and Joleon Lescott still remain on the wish-list. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org