Fulham to bring in former City and Blackburn star on a free.
CaughtOffside understands that Fulham manager Martin Jol is considering offering a contract to Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz, who was confirmed yesterday as being released by Manchester City.
The 31-year-old has just spent the 2012/13 season on loan to La Liga side Malaga, scoring 12 goals in all competitions for Manuel Pellegrini’s side and impressing for the club both domestically and in the Champions League.
However, with Pellegrini set to take over from Roberto Mancini at the Etihad Stadium, he seemingly does not see Santa Cruz as fitting into his new team, and the former Blackburn star will be a free agent this summer.
Santa Cruz has also had a loan spell in Spain with Real Betis in a difficult few years at Manchester City. After signing for £17.5million in 2009 from Blackburn, he made 24 appearances for the club, scoring only four goals. However, he has shown he still has the goal-scoring touch with his performances in La Liga, and Jol is keen to sign a new striker this summer.
This position has become a priority for the Fulham boss, as his side were somewhat over-reliant on Dimitar Berbatov for goals this season. The Bulgarian scored 15 goals for the club after joining from Manchester United, but is now understood to be considering a move away after a disappointing 12th place finish in the Premier League.
The likes of Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric, both free transfers last summer, have been disappointing for Fulham, with the latter being released from Craven Cottage yesterday.
The Cottagers have already been linked with a loan move for Romelu Lukaku, though the Belgian youngster now looks set to stay and fight for his place at Chelsea after spending this season on loan at West Brom.
Santa Cruz may favour a stay in Spain, as that is where he has found his best form of late, and could yet earn a permanent deal with Malaga, who will not want to endure another summer of losing key players, after selling Santi Cazorla to Arsenal last summer and possibly losing star player Isco to Pellegrini at City this year.
Santa Cruz will probably not be the only striker to leave the Etihad this summer, with the futures of Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez also coming under some speculation, as it is likely that Pellegrini will want to put his own stamp on a squad that failed to win any silverware this season. The likes of Edinson Cavani and Stephan El Shaarawy have been strongly linked as targets for the Chilean.
Fulham will also be hoping to soon finalise a permanent deal for Emmanuel Frimpong, who spent the second half of last season on loan from Arsenal.