It is never an easy pill to swallow when you see one of your arch-rivals complete a deal for a player your interested in, however, Manchester United might have had the last laugh regarding one particular deal.
Manchester City may have started to assert themselves as one of England’s (if not one of Europe’s) best sides over the past decade or so, however, they ultimately made one of their worst transfer decisions almost ten years ago to the day, therefore allowing Sir Alex Ferguson and the Red Devils to avoid a potentially costly bullet.
Who, you might ask, did the blue half of Manchester save the red half of the city from?
Roque Santa Cruz, that’s who.
According to a claim by the Paraguayan in 2008, he told The Telegraph that Manchester United’s interest in him ‘was real’ (unlike the actual Santa… sorry kids!), however, he was focused on doing what he did best for Blackburn Rovers and scoring goals.
However, Manchester City decided they wanted to make him a part of their team in the 2009 summer transfer window and chose to activate the £18million release clause he had in his contract at the time (BBC).
Indeed, it appeared to be a rather good deal at the time, but things were not all they seemed when he was donning the Sky Blue strip.
As a child gets to a certain age and starts to question whether the idea of Santa is actually make-belief, many adults in the stands at the Etihad Stadium would have been questioning whether he had actually been a Premier League striker in the past.
The 23 goals he scored in his first season with Blackburn appeared to be a fluke, with some probably going on to say it was an urban myth, as he failed to make an impression during his time with the club (well, a good impression to say the least).
Three goals in 19 Premier League appearances for Mark Hughes’ side (who originally brought him to England from Bayern Munich) in his first season, Santa Cruz was subsequently left out of the side when Roberto Mancini was appointed and spent time collecting passport stamps.
A temporary spell back at Ewood Park was followed by trips to Real Betis and Malaga, with the latter deciding to take him off of Citeh’s hands once and for all.
Now 37-years-old, the South American is still playing football and returned to where it all started for him; Olimpia Asunción after spells with Cruz Azul in Mexico and another loan with Malaga (what is it with going back to former clubs?! Try something new! Broaden your horizons!)
Admittedly, Santa Cruz may have had a number of injuries throughout his career that stopped him from being a quality player, however, United must be pretty delighted they missed out on this £18m bullet.
Manchester United fans, how pleased are you the club did not spend £18m on Santa Cruz? Let us know below!
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