Just about all of the Sunday papers seem to be running a story about Michael Owen’s desperation to get out of Real Madrid and move back to England. Desperation is the operative word, as if the reports are to be believed the England striker is actually considering a move to Manchester United of all clubs.
If Owen were to move to Liverpool’s biggest rivals then he would see his popularity in Liverpool dip substantially. In addition to this he would not be popular with all the fans at Old Trafford, and would soon be suffering jeers from his own fans if he had a run of games without scoring.
The News of the World say Owen is "praying" to be brought back to England by the Reds or the red devils – even on loan if necessary.
The Sunday Mirror says Owen is off to Old Trafford if Alex Ferguson gets his way. They reckon he’s told the new owners of United that he wants them to sort a deal out for Owen.
The Daily Star Sunday says that Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Newcastle are "on alert" to sign Owen now that Real have signed Robinho for £20million.
The People have decided instead to link Stelios with a move from Bolton to Anfield for £1million.
In the Sunday Express though it’s back to Owen again – they say Ferguson is about to bid £11million for the former Reds striker, and that this will, "trigger the Premiership’s biggest transfer scramble for years."
The Mail on Sunday quotes the same figure for Owen – £11million – but says that Ferguson is still trying to raise that money before he can make a bid. The sales of Phil Neville, Kleberson and Saha will be necessary before he approaches the Spaniards for the player.
The Sunday Times claim that a "senior club official" from Real has said that they won’t stand in Owen’s way if he wants to leave.
The Observer also believes that Owen is off to Old Trafford. It claims that United are "clear favourites" to get the player’s signature, "after a series of developments" made his departure from Real a certainty. It says there have been no talks yet, but that informally both United and Real believe a deal is in the interests of both clubs.
We’ve already been made aware that Owen’s "people" have made it clear that Michael wants to move back to Anfield. This is a move fancied by chairman David Moores and chief executive Rick Parry but Rafa Benitez is not as keen. The lack of enthusiasm from Benitez is only over the potential fee – he’d rather spend that money in other ways. A loan move would be a definite possibility, but Real would be reluctant to do this.
Certainly the amount of coverage in the press on the issue makes it look like Owen is about to leave Real – his agents are SFX, who seem to like helping the press with their stories.