This morning the News of the World printed a story that will strike fear through most Newcastle United fan’s hearts; their most expensive player, Michael Owen, could be leaving them for £16 million less than he cost. Owen, believed to be earning £120, 000 per week, is refusing to renew his contract with Newcastle, because they will not continue to pay him his current salary. Owen is thought to be happy to stay with the magpies, his only qualm being his salary.
As the News of the World correctly said, if a new deal has not been signed by January other teams will be free to court the Newcastle striker, and provide more than enough money to keep Owen happy. Newcastle do have the option to form a damage limitation strategy and sell him off cheaply before next summer comes around, but even then they will still have made substantial losses.
Many would argue that salary should not be an issue if you’re earning over £30, 000 per week, so is Michael Owen being selfish and unreasonable to expect a six figure payment every week? The Newcastle captain will see other club talismans being paid a stupid amount and expect the same himself; Ronaldo is also believed to be earning £120,000 per week.
If Michael Owen were to leave on a free transfer it would be a huge blow to Newcastle’s morale. The Toon accepted him from the off and he has been treated as one of their own. The fact that Keegan decided to make him captain would be the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of the Newcastle contingent feeling as if Owen’s departure was a personal betrayal of their trust. Owen would, and perhaps will turn into a hate figure whenever he visited St James Park.
If Owen does leave, where will he go? Being a former Liverpool player it seems unlikely that Manchester United will go for him, so perhaps Liverpool will treat Owen as a prodigal son and welcome him back with open arms. It seems likely to me though, that it will not be a top four club who would take Owen on, because of him being prone to injury, but perhaps a club challenging for a UEFA cup spot, such as Blackburn, or Man City.
There seems to be a good chance of this going either way, but if you pushed me I would say that I think that there is a bigger chance of Owen staying than going, only because I think that Newcastle will buckle to his wage demands as they do not want to lose their prize asset.