Michael Owen drops Newcastle and Liverpool transfer revelation that will surprise no one
Former Newcastle United striker Michael Owen has provided the inside track on his club record £16million transfer from Real Madrid in 2005.
Owen had scored 16 goals in 45 appearances in his one season at Madrid but couldn’t be guaranteed game time heading into a World Cup year with the likes of Ronaldo and Raul ahead of him in the pecking order.
The England international wanted to move back to the Premier League, with his clear preference being to rejoin Liverpool.
“When I was leaving Real Madrid, I spoke to Liverpool, they wanted to buy me back, they put in a bid of £10 million,” Owen told BT Sport.
“So they’d sold me for £8m and put in a bid of £10m, I thought, I’m there, I’m going to go home.
“The [Real Madrid] president knocks on the door of my hotel room before a pre-season game and says listen ‘we’ve had a bid from an English team, how are you feeling? We’ve loved having you here, you’re absolutely welcome to stay, but if you want to go home, it’s your call’.
“I said no, I’d prefer to go back now, I’ve had a great experience, but I’d prefer to go back now, thinking it’s Liverpool.
“He said ‘okay well, it’s Newcastle’ and I was like what? I was told obviously on the QT by Liverpool that they were going to put in a bid, so I just assumed it was them.”
Owen went on to reveal his obvious reluctance to make the move to St James’s Park, insisting he wasn’t going to join any other club than Liverpool.
But with Liverpool not willing to match Newcastle’s offer, he was left with no other option.
“I was like oh no no no, no no no, I will go back to Liverpool but no no no, I’m not going, I’m not going anywhere else,” he added. “He said well Newcastle have bid £16m, if Liverpool do that, then you can go there.
“But if not, you either stay here or go to Newcastle. I was like okay, I’ll stay here, I’ll stay here, obviously putting on a poker face.
“I spoke to Liverpool again, I said if you just go to £12m, I’ll play poker. I’ll hold my nerve and I’ll force them into a corner, to either keep me or go [to Liverpool].
“But Liverpool said we can only go to £10m, so then I had a big decision to make. We had just signed Robinho, we already had Ronaldo, Raul, Morientes.
“We had a World Cup coming up at the end of the year and I was thinking I need to play all of the time."
But even before signing for Newcastle, Owen was already looking for a quick avenue out of the club.
“I spoke to Newcastle and Newcastle agreed that if I signed for them, I can do one year and then they will sell me to Liverpool for an agreed fee of £12m,” Owen revealed. “Then if I do another year, then they’ll sell me to Liverpool for £8m, and another year for £4m.
“So every year, it would be more attractive for Liverpool to buy me back.
“The mad thing is, is that I was hopefully going to be going back for £12m, did my knee, so then Liverpool bought [Fernando] Torres and [Luis] Suarez, and it just never happened.”
Torres ended up being a huge success at Anfield with 81 goals in 142 appearances. And although Suarez didn’t join The Reds until 2011, well after Owen had left Newcastle, he boasted an even better record of 82 goals in 133 matches for the club.
Still, Owen attempted to move away from Newcastle at the end of every season before finally having his wish granted following the club’s relegation to the Championship.
Though instead of moving to Liverpool, the striker joined their fierce rivals Manchester United instead.
“At the end of every year, I obviously tried to go back,” he continued. “But I have got to make it clear, that’s not to say I didn’t have any love for [Newcastle].
“But when you have a love for a team…no one can blame me for that. Alan Shearer would have done the same for Newcastle.”
Owen spent four seasons at Newcastle but injuries limited him to just 79 appearances in that time, fewer than half of the total matches the club played. He still captained the club and boasted a respectable scoring record for The Magpies having found the net on 30 occasions.
But given the transfer fee, which remained a club record until Miguel Almiron joined from Atlanta United in 2019, and his weekly salary – which would still make him among the club’s top earners even today without taking inflation into account – Owen is regarded as one of Newcastle’s worst pieces of business in the Premier League era.
Subsequent claims of Owen feigning injury for Newcastle’s crucial relegation decider against Aston Villa and comments from the player voicing his dissatisfaction with the move have only fuelled the fire.
But in spite of not wanting to be at the club, Owen claimed that he actually had a ‘great time’ on Tyneside.
“I had a great time [at Newcastle],” he admitted. “Lots of people say otherwise but four years up there. I lived up there despite what people thought, it’s a great city.
“It was brilliant but I just wanted to play for Liverpool. That was the only problem.”