Owen’s return to Anfield could be this week

The English press have been kept busy today with England’s defeat in a friendly last night, but they’ve still found a little room for transfer speculation. Once again Liverpool and Michael Owen are the subject of the stories, which all conflict each other in some of the details.

Most reports agree that Owen’s move to Anfield is imminent, although they disagree on the type of deal that will be done. Some reports claim a loan deal for 12 months followed by a transfer fee being paid, other reports quote varying transfer fees.

To add weight to their claims, the reports saying that Liverpool will be paying high transfer fees are saying that Liverpool will have to sell Djibril Cisse as well as Milan Baros in order to fund the move.

What does seem to be the case in fact is that Liverpool have a deal in the pipeline that will almost be self-funding for Owen. Liverpool are still owed money for Owen from last year, and by not paying him for the last 12 months have saved almost £5million in wages. The funding required for the purchase of Owen does not require the sale of Djibril Cisse.

The Cisse reports have come about because Gerard Houllier has got £26million at his disposal after the sale of Michael Essien. Owen has said he doesn’t fancy a move to Lyon so now the reports have put Cisse and Houllier together again. Liverpool are unlikely to speak to Lyon about selling the player unless Lyon come up with the £14million that the Reds paid for the player. Even then there’s little chance that Cisse would move back to France at this stage.

Don’t be surprised if an announcement is made today – the deal for Owen is said to be that close – but at the same time don’t be disappointed if nothing happens. Real are desperate to get more money for Owen than they will from Liverpool, and will be using every trick they can think of to force Liverpool to pay more. It’s a test of nerve between the executives of both clubs.

As a further note Michael Owen’s wife Louise is reported to be expecting their second child – and this adds more weight to the fact that Owen really only wants to move back to Anfield. Real Madrid are trying unsuccessfully to make it look like Owen is considering other options, but his advisors are making it clear what the player’s wishes are.

Liverpool are also said to be holding out still on their transfer fee demands for Milan Baros. Although David O’Leary said he rejected a request from Liverpool to include Nolberto Solano in the deal, Liverpool know that O’Leary may consider it as he is desperate to sign Baros.