Santa Cruz tops Hughes' wish list for January spree
Mark Hughes believes Sunday's defeat to Liverpool revealed "obvious frailties that we will work to address in January" and he is already reflecting on how he might spend the Arab millions at his disposal.
Hughes will not be travelling to Abu Dhabi to discuss potential purchases with the club's chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak until the November international break. But another bid for Blackburn Rovers' Roque Santa Cruz, for whom City's offer of £15m was rejected in August, seems likely. Werder Bremen's German international Torsten Frings might be another target as Hughes seeks to add muscularity to a central midfield short of it.
An experienced goalkeeper is also on Hughes' wish list. He wanted to bring in the Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel – whom Hughes previously managed at Blackburn – before the Arab takeover at City and remains of the view that Joe Hart, at 21, is too young to face a league and Uefa Cup campaign single-handedly. Hughes has gone to great lengths to explain his thinking to Hart, who won a first England cap against Trinidad & Tobago in June, and has kept the player's family in the picture.
Hughes is not short of strikers but another bid for Santa Cruz, whom he landed from Bayern Munich in July of last year, may be irresistible, particularly if Blackburn's hopes of a Uefa Cup place continue to look as slim as Saturday's defeat by Manchester United suggested. Until January, though, it will be make do and mend for Hughes. "We need to take something positive from every game we play," Hughes said. "At the moment we are struggling on that point, but we are a young team in terms of experience and development."