Michael Owen’s potential return to the Premiership would be welcomed by Liverpool’s skipper Steven Gerrard – as long as it was to play for the Reds.
Although the press were put off the scent by carefully deflected answers from Rafa Benitez in recent weeks, the Spanish coach has finally had to admit that he would like to bring Owen home. Whenever Rafa was asked prior to that, he would answer that his priority was a centre-back and a winger – but never denied an interest in the player, despite what the newspapers were reporting.
The press have now worked out what is really happening – Owen and Liverpool would like to get together again. Owen has accepted his Madrid days are over and has been looking to move back to Anfield since mid-way through last season. Liverpool are willing to bring him back, but are not willing to be ripped-off. Madrid are wanting to sell, but are themselves not prepared to be ripped-off. Newcastle are getting in the way by making high bids for the player, which plays into Madrid’s hands to a certain extent, as it gives them a little more bargaining power with the Reds.
As we’ve said previously though, Owen wants to play for Liverpool again. No other English club interests him enough for him to choose them over Liverpool. As soon as Owen was made aware that he had a chance of joining Liverpool again, his mind was made up. Newcastle probably know they will never be able to tempt Owen, and like a year ago when they "tried" to sign Wayne Rooney, know that they are not likely to have to actually find the cash for the bids they make. This tactic keeps the fans on side, making it look like they have serious intentions, but Graeme Sounness will not be given anywhere near the amount of money supposedly being offered for Owen to spend on alternatives.
Gerrard was speaking to the Liverpool Echo and when asked what he thought about Owen’s possible return he said: "It goes without saying I would love Michael Owen back here and I think everyone at the club would love him back. Obviously it’s up to Real Madrid. He’s their player and they’ll decide if he can go, but when I see Michael in the England squad this week I won’t even have to ask him where he’d like to be in a few weeks."
Gerrard and Owen were both products of Liverpool’s academy, as was Jamie Carragher, and all three are managed by the same agency. There’s no doubt the three friends keep in touch.
Gerrard wants Owen to come back to Anfield, and certainly not to join another club. He said, "I’m waking up every morning, looking in the papers and hoping to read he’s on his way here. Could you imagine him coming back to Anfield and scoring against us for another club? It would be a nightmare. Whoever signs him guarantees themselves 20 goals and, in my opinion, the best striker in the league."
Liverpool’s goalscoring run in the pre-season and European games came
to an end in the Premiership on Saturday, and there’s no doubt that
Michael Owen would have been just the type of player to get that bit
of luck Liverpool needed to breach the ‘Boro defence. Liverpool
outplayed Middlesborough, there’s no dispute about that, but
Premiership points are awarded on results not performances. Owen is a
player that scores a high percentage of his chances, and Gerrard
admits that missed chances cost Liverpool two points. He said:
"Everything was perfect apart from the fact we didn’t score. The
manager told us to match them until half-time and keep a clean sheet
and then we’d create lots of chances in the last 30 minutes. That’s how
it went, but we missed our opportunities."
Rafa Benitez brough Milan Baros on as a substitute in the game against
Middlesborough, in what could be his last appearance in the Red shirt.
Aston Villa are believed to be very close to securing a deal of
£6.75million for the Czech international.
Another Liverpool Striker looks set to make his playing return after
being under the knife for cruciate ligament surgery. Florent
Sinama-Pongolle is expected to play in the reserve match against
Everton at Wrexham tomorrow.
Also likely to appear in that game are the
Reds two latest signings. Both signings are defenders, and both are
just 17 years of age and part of Rafa’s plans to build for the future.
Godwin Antwi is a centre-back, and was signed from Real Zaragoza. Born
in Ghana, he is also comfortable in a midfield role. Miquel Roque, is
also a centre-back, signed from Spanish league two team Lleida.
The two players are not going to be based at the academy, instead will
do their training at Melwood. They join another two youngsters signed
recently, Antonio Barragan and Jack Hobbs, who are also expected to
appear for the reserves tomorrow. The game kicks off at 7pm.