Owen impresses his Real boss as Benitez sings his praises

Michael Owen spoke to Shoot magazine in an interview this week that has set tongues wagging about him coming back to Liverpool again in the summer. He spoke in the interview about how he’s fed up of being on the bench and is missing the home that he’d just had specially renovated in North Wales. He said that if he had to move, he’d be glad to come back to Liverpool.

Rafael Benitez refused to be drawn on the matter on Friday, but has now told Sky Sports that Owen could come back. At least he said that it’s an option for him to come back. Rafa said: "Owen is a Liverpool supporter and it is always an option for him, and for us, for him to come back. He has the spirit that you need. He loves Liverpool so it is always an option for him to come back."

Of course the chances of him coming back depend on many things, but
certainly the financial side of the move would be important. Liverpool
received £8M for him last August, along with Antonio Nunez. Madrid
would want that back at the very least – especially if other clubs come
in with higher offers. Then there’s the question of Owen’s wages – he’d
probably not be offered as much as he’s on at Real Madrid right now,
and although Owen’s no mercenary, he’d not play for free.

It does seem though that Owen would need to be happy if he
were to continue playing for Real. This means Madrid’s coach Vanderlei
Luxemburgo needs to find a way of playing Owen when Raul has done his
level best to alienate Owen for his own needs. Talk that Raul goes to
the president of the club if he wants something – and that he always
gets it – is not uncommon.

Luxemburgo has found a way of playing Owen, Raul and Ronaldo in the
same team. He’s dropped Figo for tonight’s Real v Barca game.

Real against Barca will always be a competitive match – but tonight’s
is going to be a little more so. Barca are nine points ahead of Real in
La Liga. A win for Real tonight would close the gap to six points, with
seven games left to play.

Said Luxemburgo: "We are going to start with Raúl, Ronaldo and Owen."
Luxemburgo was annoyed that the news had been leaked. He told Real’s
official site: "Yesterdays training was behind closed doors but twenty
minutes later what happened was already known".

Now that Figo is getting a taste of life as a sub, he doesn’t like it.
Luxemburgo said: "It´s normal for Figo to be annoyed, as he has a great
history, he´s been an international for his country. My decision is not
to lose Figo for the sake of it, but we can´t play with 12. It´s normal
for him to be irritated, but I prefer that he starts on the bench. It´s
one thing to like something, and another what you can do. I´m going to
make a team with the players I have."

Owen’s recent form for Real, alongside his performances in
training, have swung things his way. Real’s fans have taken to Owen,
and if he finds the net in this game tonight they’ll take to him all
the more.

Many commentators in Spain have blamed the way that Real’s president
chooses the players – star players – to buy makes life hard for the
coach. Luxemburgo says this doesn’t affect his decisions: "I don´t have
a problem with the galacticos. My mission is improve the club.
Sometimes I make mistakes, but I have to try. People might think I´m
mistaken, but that´s normal. My intention is to make the best team for
the Club."

Despite saying that Owen’s form was a factor, Luxemburgo
hinted at something else that helped him decide. He said, "What´s
important here is the "us", not the "I". There was a reason for this
change, but I can´t explain it here."

Figo has been linked to a move to the Premiership this weekend
– Liverpool being a club that was mentioned – and it may well
ultimately be that it’s he making way for Owen to become a regular

are one of the clubs linked with Figo, but again this seems unlikely as
Liverpool would not be willing to pay the sort of wages he’d require.

* Owen went on to score in Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Barcelona.