Michael Owen has been speaking today to the two clubs looking to sign him from Real Madrid. After talking earlier in the day with his former bosses at Anfield, the player travelled up to the North East to speak to Freddie Shepherd and co at Newcastle United.
With just two days left to tie up transfers before the deadline passes, Owen needs to have his decision made by the time he wakes up tomorrow morning. That then allows the club that he agrees to join to tie up the details of the deal with Real Madrid, the details of the contract with Owen, and of course the usual routines of medicals and so on. There’s no longer any time to dither over a decision.
Despite what is being said by the press, Liverpool will pay more than the £8million (plus Antonio Nunez) they received 12 months ago when Owen went to Spain. However they’ve got a maximum amount in mind for the overall deal and so the more Madrid get then the less Owen gets.
Newcastle’s reported bid of £17million for Owen is more than Liverpool would pay for the player – but if Owen doesn’t want to join them then they could bid £100million – nobody can make Owen move.
Owen’s already shown his hand by saying he needs to be playing this season – but he doesn’t want to move into another situation that he’ll be unhappy with. He’d rather sit in Madrid’s reserves until January than move to Newcastle if he feels their on-pitch problems will be of a hindrance to him.
Liverpool is the preferred choice for Owen over Newcastle for football reasons – Liverpool are in the Champions League, holders of that trophy and the Super Cup, and are hoping to make decent challenges in five more competitions this season. Newcastle are not in Europe, are second from bottom of the Premiership and after finishing 14th last season showing no signs of a turn-around.
Liverpool is the preferred choice for Owen over Newcastle for personal reasons. The distance from Owen’s family home in North Wales to Newcastle is not much better than the distance to Spain in real terms. A flight from Spain is only a couple of hours, a flight across country doesn’t take much less. Owen and his wife Louise – now expecting their second child – want to be near to their families, and so the obvious choice in that respect is again Liverpool.
Where Newcastle do win, assuming they are being honest about their intentions, is financially. Liverpool will not be ripped off. Owen will be entitled to a pay-off from Real if he leaves before the end of his contract. Real will want this money to come from the player’s transfer fee. Real may accept a bid from Liverpool, but in return will expect Owen to accept a lower pay-off. Owen has to decide whether the offer from Liverpool leaves him where he wants to be financially.
This financial situation also means that Owen will almost certainly not be let go on loan by Real.
From the signals that are out there now, Owen wants to play for Liverpool and will accept a significant wage-drop to get his wish. It may be that a new contract at Anfield would include clauses to bring him increases based on success. Unfortunately the biggest threat to Liverpool getting Owen back on board again is our old friends at SFX – Owen’s representatives. The management at SFX were alleged to be leaking news to the press strategically during the Steven Gerrard saga in the summer. Although Gerrard’s personal agent was praised by Gerrard, his bosses were not praised. The same agency is responsible for Owen, and the bigger the deal they can negotiate the bigger a cut they will get.
Owen needs to make up his own mind on this one.