Michael Owen has confirmed that talks to bring him home to Anfield are at an advanced stage – but he also says that a move to Newcastle has been agreed should Liverpool not get the deal finalised by the end of the transfer window.
Owen wanted to be part of Real’s plans for this season, and his preference was to have been told he was part of those plans. He has been speaking to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez who promised to help the former Reds hero return home. Owen revealed: "I said that my ideal situation was to start the season in the Real Madrid team and if not I would prefer to return to Liverpool."
Owen wants to come home and wants to wear the Red shirt again – but he’s not prepared to sit the season on the bench or in the reserves in Spain. If the deal with Liverpool can’t go through in the next seven days then he will be joining Newcastle on a one-year loan deal. Owen said: "If the transfer cannot be finalised in time I have agreed to go to Newcastle."
Owen fought his way into Madrid’s starting line-up towards the tail-end of last season, and thought that his future at Madrid was now looking better. However during the summer Real signed Brazilian strikers Robinho and Julio Baptista leaving Owen way down the pecking order at the club. Owen lives to play football, and not just at club level. A move is vital now according to Owen: "I need to be playing regularly in World Cup year. I am most grateful to Senor Perez for his personal concern about my career. I have really enjoyed being part of his Real Madrid team."
Despite Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez constantly deflecting answers to questions about Owen by talking about other priorites, Liverpool do want to sign the player. This is a fact we’ve talked about for some time now, even when the press were saying that Liverpool were not interested. Now that the news is public Liverpool have no option but to make a decision.
Owen is believed to be prepared to accept a pay cut to move to Anfield – possibly even less than he would have been on should he have signed a new deal a year ago. Although that amount isn’t agreed as such, the main delay now is for Liverpool and Real to agree terms. Neither side wants to lose face over the move and not only does a deal need to be agreed, but the two clubs also need to agree what they will publicly reveal about the deal.
Reports claiming that Benitez is being forced to buy the player against his will are completely untrue. Benitez wants the player and Liverpool’s board will not force him to buy a player against his will. Liverpool as a club however are determined that the transfer be carried out on their terms. This means that compromises are needed from all sides.