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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Rovers reject latest Santa Cruz bid from City

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has confirmed that his latest offer for Roque Santa Cruz, reported to be £18.5m, has been turned down by Blackburn Rovers.

''Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon we put an improved bid to Blackburn for Roque Santa Cruz but it was rejected,'' said Hughes who signed the 27-year-old from Bayern Munich in July 2007 for a mere £3.5m.

After hitting an impressive 23 goals in his first Premier League season interest in Santa Cruz increased, as did Rovers' valuation of the Paraguayan.

It has reported that Rovers are holding out for £25m but there are reports that Santa Cruz's contract contains a release clause which will be activated if a bid in excess of £20m is tabled.

While Santa Cruz is keen to reunite with Hughes he has also sought to avoid inflaming the situation, telling The Telegraph: "While I'm a Blackburn I can't talk to anyone at City. I only know what everyone else knows: that they are interested in me but that they haven't yet come to an agreement with Blackburn.

"My agent has been contacted by other clubs, but the fact is that Mark Hughes is a manager I know. He knows me, and I know what he expects."

Hughes confirmed City were still considering whether to pursue the matter any further.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce confirmed that Rovers had rejected the latest bid for Santa Cruz, saying: ''Yes, they (Manchester City) have made another bid.

''We have considered it and it's not been accepted. They have been unsuccessful. But whether they come back before Monday's 5pm deadline, I've no idea.''

City may have more success in their pursuit of goalkeeper Shay Given amid reports that the Republic of Ireland international handed in a transfer request at Newcastle United late on Thursday and made it clear he would like to join the Eastlands club.

Hughes wants Given's experience to give City's defence more solidity and now he is waiting for the Magpies to make contact.

''We have put in a bid for Shay but we are still waiting for an update,'' he said.

Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear is known to be irritated by City's attempts to sign Given, while Wigan manager Steve Bruce was fiercely critical of the club last week for unsettling Wilson Palacios, who subsequently signed for Tottenham.

''The criticism is unfair,'' said Hughes. ''The Wigan stuff is a little bit bizarre. I am not quite sure where Steve is coming from. He is confusing everyone I think, including himself.''

Hughes confirmed City have not made a formal approach for any players besides those made for Given and Santa Cruz, when he was specifically questioned about Arsenal defender Kolo Toure.

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