Blackburn on Friday completed the surprise signing of former African player of the year El-Hadji Diouf from Sunderland in a £2 million deal. Diouf, 28, only moved to Sunderland at the end of last season but was keen to be reunited with Sam Allardyce, the Blackburn manager who brought Diouf when he was in charge of Bolton.
Allardyce said the signing would enable him to allow Matt Derbyshire to join Greek club Olympiacos on loan until the end of the season. The deal was not completed in time for Diouf to be eligible to play for Blackburn at Middlesbrough on Saturday but Allardyce made it clear the forward would go into his first team as soon as possible.
"He can play a few positions, down the right, down the left, as well as along the front," Allardyce said. "I'm hoping he can come and give me the kind of performances he gave at Bolton." The Blackburn boss added: "In the time I spent with him we always finished in the top half of the Premier League, no lower than eighth, and we played in Europe.
"Hopefully he can bring his ability, his trickery to Ewood Park, and delight some of the Blackburn fans." Diouf's propensity for diving made him a hate figure for Blackburn's supporters during his time at Bolton but Allardyce has no doubt that his new acquisition can win them over.
"If he goes and plays to his best then they will soon take to him because he is talented," Allardyce said. "I just have to make sure he's ready and available, and he produces the best he can, because his best is very good - and normally it doesn't come this cheap."
Diouf, who turned 28 earlier this month, cost Sunderland £2.5 million but did not made as big an impact as hoped for at the Stadium of Light. He started 13 matches for the club and came on as a substitute three times but failed to score in any of his appearances.
Sunderland also sold Pascal Chimbonda back to Tottenham earlier this week and manager Ricky Sbragia is hoping to use the funds raised to sign an experienced defender before Sunday's derby clash with Newcastle.
Allardyce meanwhile confirmed that Blackburn had rejected a fresh offer from Manchester City for their striker Roque Santa Cruz, but admitted he could not be certain of hanging on to the Paraguay international.
"Yes, City have made another bid," he said. "We have considered it and it's not been accepted but whether they come back before Monday's 5pm deadline, I've no idea." City's latest offer valued Santa Cruz at £18.5 million, according to reports, and Blackburn's resolve to keep the forward is almost certain to be tested again over the weekend. The 27-year-old has made it clear he would like to leave Blackburn for City, now managed by former Rovers boss Mark Hughes.