Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince has warned Aston Villa and Manchester City off Paraguayan International striker Roque Santa Cruz, with the former Manchester United midfielder even claiming that the Villans could not afford the prolific forward.
27-year-old Santa Cruz arrived at Ewood Park in 2007 from Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich when City boss Mark Hughes was in charge at Rovers. With Hughes, who was a former team-mate of Ince at Old Trafford eager to lure the striker to the Eastlands Stadium.
Villa manager Martin O’Neill is also a big fan of Santa Cruz, with reports suggesting that the former Celtic chief is ready to offer striker Marlon Harewood plus cash to bring Santa Cruz to the Midlands club.
However, Ince is adamant that the striker is happy at Blackburn, with the player under contract at Ewood Park until 2011 and insists that until that changes Santa Cruz is going nowhere.
Ince told The Sun: “Villa can't afford him.
“When it gets near to the transfer window, people start coming out with all these things.
“Roque signed a four-year deal, he came out and said he loves it at Blackburn. He wants to stay here and we want him to stay here.
“Until that changes, that's the only situation that matters.”