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English Premiership

Santa Cruz ready for striker battle

MANCHESTER, July 2 – Roque Santa Cruz has said he would relish the opportunity of battling Samuel Eto'o and Carlos Tevez for a place in the Manchester City side next season.ROQUE_SANTA_CRUZParaguay international striker Santa Cruz is City’s biggest signing of the close season so far having cost 18 million pounds (30 million dollars) from City’s Premier League rivals Blackburn Rovers.

But City manager Mark Hughes is hoping to invest a total of 50 million pounds (83 million dollars) to secure the services of Barcelona’s Eto’o and Argentina’s Tevez, who is available for 25 million pounds (41 million dollars) after his two-year loan at neighbours Manchester United expired.

Yet instead of worrying about the possible arrival of Eto’o and Tevez and the extra competition for places that they would bring, Santa Cruz said that he would thrive on the added pressure of securing a place in the side.

"I don’t know who is coming and who is not," said Santa Cruz, who has signed a four-year contract with City.

"But whoever can come to join the club and make us stronger, that’s very welcome. When you are at a big club there’s always going to be challenges and competition for places.

"That will only make players stronger. It makes players deliver better performances because they want to show how good they are."

Hughes brought the 27-year-old Santa Cruz to England two years ago from Bayern Munich when he was in charge of Blackburn. The player scored 23 goals in 43 games in his debut season at Ewood Park.

Former Manchester United striker Hughes had failed with several bids to sign Santa Cruz in the past year since he left Blackburn to coach City.

Santa Cruz is City’s second close season signing after England midfielder Gareth Barry joined from Aston Villa earlier this month.

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City’s wealthy owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, has pledged to spend to turn the Premier League underachievers into a title-winning side.

Hughes, who is relishing working with Santa Cruz again, said he expected to remain busy in the transfer market right up until the window closes at the end of August.

"If we can get the players that we hope and anticipate, then we’ll have more tools to do the job," added Hughes.

"We feel we are getting close to where we need to be able to challenge.

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