Allardyce plotting Van Nistelrooy 'coup'

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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce has revealed he would like to bring Ruud van Nistelrooy to Ewood Park from Real Madrid as he seeks to replace Roque Santa Cruz. However, the Blackburn Rovers manager will not move for Michael Owen because he, like Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan, considers him injury-prone.

Allardyce wants to deliver the same kind of coup for Blackburn that he did for Bolton Wanderers three years ago by bringing Nicolas Anelka to Lancashire and he appears ready to spend lavishly, with Van Nistelrooy the kind of high-profile name who would bring greater, and much-needed, numbers through the Ewood Park turnstiles.

The outlay would not be substantial – as little as £1.25million based on the figure Tottenham Hotspur were said to be offering this month – and a player who turns 33 next Wednesday is not one clubs will be scrambling to buy. The salary demands might be more than Rovers are willing and able to pay, though. Van Nistelrooy (pictured) would want around £70,000 a week, the kind of figure which has already persuaded Rovers that a deal for Portsmouth's Peter Crouch is not viable – but the Dutchman may be persuaded to cut his losses with no prospect of Champions League football next season.

Allardyce will get a decent cut of the £16.5m Manchester City paid for Santa Cruz and the £3m from Olympiakos for Matt Derbyshire. "I [spent all the money on one player] a few years ago with Nicolas at Bolton," Allardyce said. "His goals took us up to the next level. It's what it did to the rest of the players as well as what he did. Who'd have thought Bolton would get Nicolas Anelka? Nobody did. But I went out and did it."

Allardyce proved with his purchase of Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Fernando Hierro at Bolton that he has the capacity for bringing eye-catching foreign stars to an unlikely club, though he believes the task is harder now. "It would be nice to do it with a Van Nistelrooy, I don't know," he said. "It was hugely difficult at the time but it's much more difficult now. The sort of salary [Van Nistelrooy] would be on at Real Madrid may be beyond us. But maybe he wants to come and play in England again and take less of a salary, then we'd be interested. It would be a major coup if I could pull it off."

Allardyce worked with Owen during the manager's ill-fated seven-month spell at Newcastle United and though the Blackburn board are intrigued by Owen's ability to raise interest, Allardyce has ruled it out.

"I just question the injury scenario," Allardyce said. "I need a striker that's going to be available for 30 games next season. That's not happened for Michael over the last four years."

*Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo completed his £80m transfer to Real last night, signing a six-year deal. "Real and Manchester United have signed the final agreement for the transfer of the rights of the player," Real said on their website. "The player will remain in Madrid for six seasons." Ronaldo will be presented at the Bernabeu on 6 July.

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