Club Focus – Blackburn Rovers – Jermaine Jones and Santa Cruz join on loan

Having failed to sign any players within the first two weeks of the January transfer window, Blackburn Rovers fans were left wondering whether they would see any new winter arrivals. The club have recently burst into life though, snapping up both striker Roque Santa Cruz and midfielder Jermaine Jones on loan within the space of just a few days. They may not be Ronaldinho or David Beckham, but Santa Cruz and Jones could prove vital in Rovers’ bid to once again finish in the top half of the Premier League table.

Santa Cruz, a former Blues player, made his comeback debut for Rovers at the weekend against Chelsea. However, it is Jones who is the most recent arrival, with the US international joining the club early this week. The 29-year-old comes from Bundesliga side Schalke 04 and will add some much needed bite to a Blackburn midfield which currently lacks depth.

Indeed, the Lancashire side have been missing three key ball-winners – Steven Nzonzi, Keith Andrews and Vince Grella – for some time now, whilst Brett Emerton is on international duty with Australia. This has left the Blues thin on the ground in the centre of the park and Jones’ arrival could arguably be the most important one for the team this January. The German-born midfielder would ideally sit in front of the back four, although he does have the energy to drive forward from that position. Jones has good ability to tackle and can also pass the ball well, qualities that can enhance the Blackburn squad significantly.

Manager Steve Kean said Jones was a fantastic signing for the club. He added: “He’s got a fantastic engine, he can go box-to-box, he’s a genuine all round midfield player.” The player was equally excited about his new club and told Rovers Player: “I’ve always watched a lot of Premier league games, I like the steel, I hope my game is suited to England. I hope to play on Sunday against West Bromwich Albion and I hope to show the fans that I can play in England.”

Both Santa Cruz and Jones have arrived on loan until the end of the season, the kind of transfer move owners Venky’s were keen on when they first took charge of the club. Back then, chairlady Anuradha Desai spoke about ‘leasing’ players and that is exactly what they have done. Although some fans are still waiting for the owners to splash the cash and bring someone in on a permanent transfer, the manner of the current dealings makes sense.

The club are not committed to buying either player at the end of their deals, even though there may be a purchase to buy. Should either player perform well during their spell at Ewood Park, then the owners would have good reason to sign a proven performer, but if Jones or Santa Cruz fail to impress, then the club will only lose wages and not a transfer fee. This kind of shrewd business should be expected from Venky’s in the future too and, for a club of Blackburn’s size, loan signings could well be the most effective form of transfer.

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