Malaga-Betis compete for Santa Cruz

Malaga are set to rival Andalusian neighbours Real Betis for the services of Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz.

Los Blanquiazules’ boss Manuel Pellegrini has just five days to bring in new players, following the lifting of a transfer embargo for money owed to both Villarreal and Osasuna for the transfers of Santi Cazorla and Ignacio Monreal.

The Chilean would ideally also like a midfielder and a central defender, but has put a striker at the top of his list as the club’s financial woes appear to be easing.

Santa Cruz was on loan at Betis last season and, according to Marca, he has given his word to boss Pepe Mel that if City are willing to let him go for a reasonable fee he will return to the Benito Villamarin.

However, Pellegrini is hoping to steal a march on Los Beticos by offering the former Bayern Munich striker the chance of Champions League football, providing Malaga overcome Panathinaikos in their second-leg qualifier on Tuesday night.

He also has the added draw of the Paraguayan international’s friendship with Malaga defender Martin Demichelis from their time together at Bayern.

The Costa del Sol club is also interested in Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, who spent the latter part of last season on loan at Rayo Vallecano.

Atletico director of football Jose Luis Caminero was at Malaga’s game with Real Mallorca on Saturday where it was understood an agreement was discussed.

Tags Mel Pellegrini Santa Cruz