The results of Liverpool and Newcastle’s attempts at signing Michael Owen before the transfer deadline will be known possibly as soon as this afternoon as Real Madrid announced their plans to meet to discuss Owen’s situation.
Newcastle made a bid reported to be around £17million last week, but Liverpool have left it late with theirs, for a much smaller amount. The amount Liverpool have bid is believed to be £10million, which is substantially lower than Newcastle’s bid. Prior to Newcastle making this bid Real were hoping for around £12million.
According to Real’s vice-president Emilio Butragueno the Liverpool bid will be the subject of a meeting of Real’s directors today: "We have received two bids from England one of which has been accepted already. The other will be discussed by the directors today."
Some reports claim that Madrid need to receive the full £17million from Newcastle because they need it to fund the purchase of new players. This isn’t what Real are saying however – they are prepared to receive nothing for Owen and wait until they get the amount they want for him. Butragueno explained: "If Owen doesn’t want to join a particular club after we have accepted a bid then he will stay and fight for Real. We can review the situation in January or at the end of the season if nothing happens this week."
The purchase of Owen is being linked to the sale of Djbril Cisse in many reports. This would be a very unpopular move amongst Liverpool supporters. Djibs has not only come back early from a serious leg injury, won the Super Cup for the club and shown real desire to win when on the pitch, but has shown in more ways than one that he’s a fan of Liverpool. He even got married in a Red suit. The rumours linking Cisse with a move away from Anfield have come at a very late stage, and despite statements from Marseille that they want the player, seem to be part of an agenda from elsewhere. Cisse is probably seen by the Anfield staff as a player that is available for the right price – but that would have to be somewhere around the £14million paid for the player. If Liverpool have recieved a bid at that level then there’s a possibility of him leaving, but if this had been a planned scenario then why cup-tie the player? In the case of Milan Baros, Liverpool ensured that he played no part in the Champions League qualifiers – even though ironically he joined Aston Villa who aren’t involved in Europe.
Newcastle seem to be playing a PR game with their fans. They won’t be the first Premiership club to bid for a player they know they’ll not get, but by making the offer their fans feel reassured that their club has good intentions. Newcastle’s fans need reassurance though – Graeme Souness took over from Bobby Robson a year ago and has put the club in a worse position than he found them in. Freddie Shepherd is running out of options for manager, and could be ready to give Alan Shearer his chance any time soon. Newcastle’s meeting with Owen wasn’t held in private – the press were tipped off about the location and given access to take photos. If, as expected, Owen turns down Newcastle then Shepherd will be able to say, "At least we tried".
Newcastle’s official website had the following to say: "England striker Michael Owen held talks with Newcastle about a move to St James’ Park. Owen and his representatives met up with a delegation from United at a Northumberland hotel. Real Madrid accepted a club record offer from Newcastle last week, and it is now up to the player to decide where his future lies."
In fact it is up to Real and Liverpool to decide where his future lies – Real will turn down Liverpool’s bid, but will suggest a new amount for Liverpool to bid, still lower than Newcastle’s amount. Real’s pride means they do not wish to be seen as having lost out.