Santa Cruz in, Adebayor out at Arsenal

ARSENE Wenger has made Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz one of his top summer transfer targets. (Daily Express)Wenger is hoping Manchester City drop out of the bidding so he can land Santa Cruz for a cut-price �12million.

ARSENE Wenger has made Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz one of his top summer transfer targets. (Daily Express)

Wenger is hoping Manchester City drop out of the bidding so he can land Santa Cruz for a cut-price �12million.

The Gunners will face competition from London rivals Tottenham and possibly Liverpool, but 27-year-old Santa Cruz has dropped down City's wish-list. Having missed out on a January switch to City, Santa Cruz is determined to leave Ewood Park at the end of the season and the club are resigned to losing him.

It is understood Santa Cruz has an �18m release clause in his contract that can be activated this summer, but he is expected to leave Blackburn for far less.


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City bid almost �20m for the Paraguayan in January, but he has since struggled with a knee problem and, having already got Craig Bellamy, manager Mark Hughes is reluctant to sign another injury-plagued forward.

Interest in Barcelona duo Samuel Eto'o, who claims his future is at the Nou Camp, and Thierry Henry would also suggest City have now set their sets higher than Santa Cruz.

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With cash-rich City possibly out of the equation, Wenger is hoping he can persuade Blackburn to sell Santa Cruz for almost half their January asking price.

Santa Cruz had his right knee flushed out this month and Wenger would want to be convinced of his fitness. But Arsenal could offset the money it would take to sign Santa Cruz by selling Emmanuel Adebayor to AC Milan or offering Blackburn Nicklas Bendtner as part of a deal.

Adebayor admitted this week he was flattered by Milan's interest last summer and, despite the fact he signed a new Gunners contract, the Italians are expected to make another enquiry.

Tottenham tracked Santa Cruz last summer and expressed an interest in him in January. Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones remains manager Harry Redknapp's primary striking target but, like Wenger, he could be tempted to make a move for the Paraguayan.

Having met with the agents of Roman Pavlyuchenko to discuss his future, Redknapp had bad news yesterday when it was revealed top scorer Darren Bent is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering knee ligament damage.

Bent sustained the injury in last week's defeat against Manchester United and his left knee will be in a brace for two weeks before being assessed again by specialists. Jermain Defoe, back from his broken foot, is set to step in to partner Robbie Keane against West Brom tomorrow.

Liverpool, who will try to replace Keane over the summer, have also looked at Santa Cruz.

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