x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Man City sign Blackburn striker

Roque Santa Cruz becomes Manchester City's second major signing of the summer in a reported £17 million deal.

MANCHESTER // Manchester City made their second major signing of the summer last night with the reported £17 million (Dh100m) purchase of the Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguayan agreed to a four-year deal with City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, who finally persuaded Rovers to sell after a year-long pursuit. Santa Cruz said he was excited about teaming up again with Mark Hughes, his former Blackburn manager, and to speaking to the team's chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak.

City have already recruited the England midfielder Gareth Barry, signing him for £12 million earlier this month. "The owners want the club to be more successful," said Santa Cruz. "I spoke to the chairman and I know his ambitions are known to everybody at the club. He made sure that I know as well. He wants the best for the club and to give something back to the fans. "They want to break into the top four, and the fact that the fans are so passionate about everything to do with City was also a factor.

"It's been close to happening for a while, and now I can just focus on football and concentrate on doing my best for the club." Santa Cruz flourished under the tutelage of Hughes at Ewood Park, scoring 23 goals in 57 games despite a knee injury. "I know the kind of football Mark Hughes wants to play and the kind of character he is; he's a winner, he wants to make things happen and be successful," the footballer said. "Those are always my thoughts as well, so knowing what he wants was a big factor in coming here, because I know the club is going in the right direction."

Santa Cruz, 27, first made his name in an eight-year spell at the German team Bayern Munich, but a move to Blackburn in 2007 saw him propelled into the spotlight. Hughes said he believed Santa Cruz would add strength and quality to his side's attack. "It's an area of the squad that we have needed to address for some time, and the qualities Roque brings will be of great benefit," he said. "His ability in the air and his physical presence are qualities we've been missing, but he also has technical ability and good pace for a big man."

akhan@thenational.ae