After the earlier announcement from Newcastle that they have clinched the signature of Michael Owen, there was a deafening silence from Anfield. Newcastle had bid £17million, but Liverpool expected Owen to ignore their wishes until the last possible moment.
Why no response from Anfield? At first we thought it was down to embarrassment on the part of the board. After keeping on in the hunt for Owen for weeks – behind the scenes – Liverpool’s board seemed to have messed it up. Like a game of poker, Real and Liverpool were keeping their cards close to their chest, but trying to outbluff each other. A part of this was for Owen to keep onside for Liverpool by not agreeing a move anywhere else.
For Owen to move to Newcastle shows desperation on his part. He didn’t believe, ultimately, that Liverpool would make a sufficient offer to Real. He couldn’t stand the pressure any longer – better a deal to join struggling Newcastle and guaranteed football than a season in the reserves for Madrid.
In a late twist though Chris Bascombe of the Liverpool Echo is reporting a late move by Liverpool to yet sign the player. Owen is set to arrive in the city for a medical this afternoon, but Bascombe claims Liverpool are "making a last ditch attempt to persuade him to change his mind before committing himself to St James’ Park."
Bascombe goes on to say, "The Reds’ refusal to pay well beyond what they received a year ago forced Owen into a reluctant agreement with the St James’ Park club. The striker was initially set to reject Newcastle’s overtures, but he knows that would give Liverpool less than 48 hours to agree a deal with Madrid.
Real have given him no encouragement an Anfield agreement is a realistic prospect. If Owen puts his faith in Liverpool negotiating his transfer but the current stalemate continues, he knows he will be stuck in Madrid until January.
Liverpool will have their work cut out now to convince Owen that they’ll splash out a bit more cash for the player. The silence of the Liverpool board could be a good sign, and after the yo-yo contract business with Gerrard in the summer it would be no surprise if Owen did change his mind. But we wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath.
** Update: The Liverpool Echo have pulled the story by Bascombe, making slight edits and now saying that the 11th hour move was unsuccessful. Version 1 and Version 2 of the story only differ slightly.