x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Opportunity to break into top four lures trio to Manchester City

With a combined cost of £30million (Dh181m), Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry were linked with numerous clubs before their moves.

ABU DHABI // Even at a combined cost of £30million (Dh181m), Roque Santa Cruz and Gareth Barry were linked with numerous clubs before sealing moves to Eastlands. Now, without a ball even kicked, both players have reiterated that Manchester City were the only destination to achieve their shared objectives. "I think with the team we are building there will be a lot of chances to score goals," said Santa Cruz yesterday.

"I'm 27 and here during my best years. I'm looking forward to being part of something big and successful. For me, it's a great thing and I can't wait to score goals and be good for the team," added the Paraguayan striker. Manager Mark Hughes clinched Barry's signature when the former Aston Villa midfielder's long-expected move to Liverpool collapsed. Anfield manager Rafa Benitez has subsequently questioned Barry's intentions, citing an inflated pay-check as the obvious lure. Barry disagreed.

"It's all about looking at the players Man City have signed - with maybe one or two more to come - it explains why I believe City can challenge the top four," said Barry. "City came in, paid the money straight away and I enjoyed what the manager had to say - I have a lot of faith in him. From then it was all about City, I wasn't looking at Liverpool at all," he said. Barry, Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez - another new signing - typify Hughes's playing characteristics. They will fight for the City cause, a necessity often absent last season.

emegson@thenational.ae