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Manchester City misfit Santa Cruz finds salvation in Southern Spain
- Updated: 28 January, 2013
Since rising to prominence after making his Bayern Munich debut aged just 18-years-old, the career of Paraguayan international Roque Santa Cruz has had more than its fair share of ups and downs.
Once seen as one the Bundesliga’s most promising stars, Santa Cruz has since been blighted by a string of serious knee injuries which have frustrated the now 31-year-old in his attempt to compete at the highest level of the game.
The man known as quilocally know as RSC finally left Bavaria in the summer of 2007 when English side Blackburn Rovers agreed to pay £3.5 million for his services – the striker going on to become a huge favourite under Mark Hughes, scoring 23 goals in 57 games.
Santa Cruz’s time at Ewood Park certainly grabbed the headlines and the 6′ 3″ hitman became one of the hottest properties in England – eventually signing a big money deal with Manchester City which saw him link up with former boss Hughes.
Things soon went wrong for Santa Cruz however, and when Hughes was sacked by City’s new owner in December 2009, it soon became app arrant the South American did not feature in the plans of new city boss Roberto Mancini.
Having made just 20 appearances for City, Santa Cruz was sent back on loan to Blackburn in January 2011, before arriving in La Liga for a season-long loan at Real Betis in the summer of 2011.
The Paraguay international has flourished in Spain and followed last season’s successful stint at Betis with an equally profitable first six months on loan at high-flying Malaga under Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini.
After financial restraints saw Malaga lose the likes of Cazorla and Salamon Rondon, the decision to bringing Santa Cruz to La Rosealeda stadium is one that has paid dividends.
With both domestic and European exploits to fulfil, Santa Cruz has brought a wealth of experience to the club and has already endeared himself to fans of Los Boquerones with a collection of high profile goals.
Having netted against both Barcelona and Real Madrid this season, the striker is currently enjoying a renaissance period in a footballing career that not so long ago seemed destined to peter out into a quiet level of mediocrity.
Injury free and still only 31-years-old, it is expected that Santa Cruz could well find himself in the middle of a hotly disputed battle for his signature come the end of June.
Reported to be on a contract worth over €5million a year at Manchester City, it is evident that the striker will have to take a monumental pay cut to be in the reaches of all but the elite of La Liga clubs. However, having already sacrificed financial gains for playing time in Andalusia, this is something that Santa Cruz seems more than happy to do.
“I do not see myself going back to the Premier League because my family are very settled here and I do not want to keep bringing my children back and forth between England and Spain,” he told the BBC.
“I want something stable for my family for the next few years.”
Having reportedly turned down a lucrative move to German outfit Wolfsburg in the summer just to remain in Spain, Santa Cruz would be a worthy and seemingly cost effective option to the majority of Spanish sides.
A player who has been worth a combined £30m in transfer fees, is suddenly going to be available for nothing. With his career heading towards its twilight years, the 31-year-old could well go out with a bang in La Liga.Follow @icentrocampista