The Manchester Evening News says Santa Cruz has been the man of choice almost since the manager walked through the doors at Eastlands but at least three bids, and possibly as many as five, over six months failed to make Rovers part with the Paraguayan.
That may change in the summer as it is believed the former Bayern man has a clause in his contract that enables him to leave for £17m.
The questions City fans will be asking themselves - and presumably Hughes too - is whether the time for Santa Cruz to be a Blue has come and gone.
He has played only eight Premier League games for Blackburn in an injury-ravaged season and scored a mere three goals.
There is the nagging suspicion that he may be a risk at the price and that there could well be other candidates around for the role of strike leader.