x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Al Nasr's trail of Man City's Roque Santa Cruz goes cold

The free agent may pass on interest of playing in the Arabian Gulf League in favour of Bologna while Baniyas prune their list.

Roque Santa Cruz, right, was given an offer but he may opt for Serie A club Bologna. Cesar Manso / AFP
Roque Santa Cruz, right, was given an offer but he may opt for Serie A club Bologna. Cesar Manso / AFP

DUBAI // Al Nasr seem set to miss out on Roque Santa Cruz after reports emerged the former Manchester City striker is close to joining Italian side Bologna.

Nasr had been confident a deal for the Paraguayan would go through despite competition from a number of clubs, with the Arabian Gulf League side convinced they had offered a competitive financial package.

Santa Cruz is a free agent after leaving Manchester City following a successful loan spell last season with Malaga.

However, the player was quoted in the Italian press as saying he expected the talks with Bologna to have a "positive ending", leaving Nasr to investigate other options.

The Dubai club have a list of 10 targets for what could potentially be two available foreign player slots within their squad, depending on whether Ivan Jovanovic, Nasr's new coach, decides to retain Brazilian forward Bruno Correa.

"We gave our offer for Santa Cruz and it's up to the player to decide his future," said a Nasr official. "We've seen reports he is having a medical with Bologna so that would imply the deal is already done. But don't worry about Al Nasr, we have other alternatives."

Nasr maintain Ibrahima Toure remains an option, although they believe the Monaco striker favours a switch to another French Ligue 1 side. Nasr envisage they will announce any new signings before the squad convenes on July 15 for pre-season.

"Within the next two weeks we'll make the final decision," said the club source. "Yet sometimes negotiations take longer than expected. But I anticipate within the coming two weeks we'll be standing on solid ground, knowing who'll be playing for Al Nasr next season."

Elsewhere, Baniyas have ended their interest in Carlos Munoz, the Colo-Colo frontman. The Abu Dhabi club had long since courted Munoz, however this week his current club requested an extra $1 million (Dh3.67m) in transfer fee. Baniyas are not prepared to pay the $5m asking price and will now revert to their original shortlist, which comprise two names.

On Wednesday, the club decided not to conclude a deal for Mauro Formica, the Blackburn Rovers attacking midfielder, despite the player having agreed personal terms.


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