x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Transfer talk: Roque Santa Cruz linked with move to Al Nasr

Former Manchester City forward likely to be in action for Dubai-based Arabian Gulf League club, reports John McAuley.

Roque Santa Cruz has had stints at clubs such as Manchester City and Malaga. Alex Grimm / Getty Images
Roque Santa Cruz has had stints at clubs such as Manchester City and Malaga. Alex Grimm / Getty Images

DUBAI // Al Nasr say they are "so close" to securing the signing of Roque Santa Cruz, the former Bayern Munich and Manchester City striker.

The Paraguay international, 31, is available on a free transfer after his four-year contract with the English Premier League club expired at the conclusion of last season.

Santa Cruz, a £17.5 million (Dh97.4m) signing from Blackburn Rovers in 2009, spent last season on loan with Malaga, scoring 12 times in 45 matches, including one of the goals that took the Spanish Primera League side through to the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League.

Should the forward choose to continue his career at Al Maktoum Stadium it would represent a significant coup for the Dubai club, as Santa Cruz was reported to be considering offers from Italy, England and Germany.

However, a source close to the deal said: "We are waiting for some fine-tuning in the negotiations. If it happens, then the transfer will go through. Of course, it's a market and the player's a free agent, so he'll go for the best offer financially.

"He's a good striker, a Paraguayan international and the past two years he played on loan at Real Betis and Malaga, where maybe he didn’t score a lot of goals but he did very well.

"He'd be an excellent signing. I’m sure a player of his quality will prove himself in this league."

Santa Cruz's arrival would provide Nasr with a completely fresh attack, after Australian international Brett Holman joined from Aston Villa last month. As Holman qualifies as the club's Asian player for next season’s Arabian Gulf League, Santa Cruz is seen as a direct replacement for Giuseppe Mascara, the Italian who was permitted to leave the club despite a fine 2012/13 campaign.

It would also appear to suggest the end of Bruno Correa’s time with Nasr, although the Brazilian could still have a future at the club if Ivan Jovanovic, the new coach, chooses to retain him.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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