With Newcastle teetering over the relegation trap door, skipper Michael Owen will lead a mass exodus at the club, should they fall through it into the Championship on Sunday. With Owen out of contract it is likely that he will leave the club in the summer regardless. The question is where will he go? A number of clubs have reportedly shown interest and being that he is available on a free reduces the risk for anyone willing to take a punt on a striker who is injury prone, but also proven class.
Of the Premiership clubs, Owen has been linked with moves to Aston Villa, Everton, Man City, Tottenham, Arsenal and a return to Liverpool. Rumours emerged last week of a pay as you play deal from Celtic that included massive goal bonuses and then there have been a few smaller cries of offers and interest from abroad. Personally I think moving north of the border at this stage of Owen’s career would be suicide, especially on a pay as you play deal. Owen is too good for the SPL right now and can still achieve a lot at a higher level. Of course the prospect of Champions League football might appeal but it’s not like he’d ever win that particular competition with Celtic.
Aston Villa is a potential destination which may be favourable to Owen as he would have the opportunity to link up with Emile Heskey once more, something that Owen has always prospered from. John Carew is also of the Heskey mould and could provide a similar foil for Owen. Everton may not be the most popular club for Owen to align himself with given his history but could be what it needed to push the Toffees to the next level. These two seem the most likely of choices as Spurs have already got three strikers in the form of Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and Darren Bent that can offer what Owen does. Man City are being linked with every Tom, Dick and Jose so their name was destined to crop up on the list of suitors but the actual chances of them signing Owen are slim. Mainly because he wouldn’t cost an outrageous transfer fee and it seems that City don’t deal in the bargain bin anymore.
Arsenal and Liverpool aren’t likely to be interested either. Owen isn’t really the kind of player Arsene Wenger likes (i.e. English), and would rather blood someone like Carlos Vela who, given Arsenal’s tight budget, wouldn’t cost the club anywhere near the amount Owen’s wages would. As for Liverpool, Rafa Benitez is hardly likely to re-sign a player who was shown the door almost immediately after Rafa took over at Anfield. I would like to see Owen try again abroad, although I can understand the player’s reluctance given his stint on the Real Madrid bench in 2004/05. Perhaps Italy would be a more viable option should Owen’s prospects be limited domestically as the Italian style may just suit his game more. Newcastle still remains an option if they stay up and it wouldn’t surprise me if Alan Shearer was to remain as manager, then Owen might just be inclined to stay put.