Could Michael Owen provide Rodgers respite?
When Michael Owen left Liverpool to join ‘the Galacticos’ of Real Madrid just over eight years ago, Anfield said goodbye to a goalscoring legend.
The Englishman’s contractual fracas with the Reds meant that with just one year left on his deal, Liverpool had two choices. Let him go for a reduced price or lose him for free the following summer.
With Madrid waiting in the wings to snap up the prolific attacker, his Merseyside fate was sealed.
In August 2004, Owen signed for the Spanish giants for £8m plus the services of unwanted midfielder, Antonio Nunez.
At the time, this was seen as phenomenal business for a player who had scored 118 goals in 216 appearances for the Reds.
However since Owen’s ill-fated move to Spain, one of England’s most gifted prodigies has spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.
Spells at Newcastle United and Liverpool’s arch-rivals, Manchester United followed his unsettled year at the Bernabeu but injuries and a lack of form have blighted the striker further.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to let the 32-year-old leave Old Trafford at the end of last season was expected.
Besides, who needs an injury-hit Owen when you have a younger version of the former great man?
United’s Mexican livewire, Javier Hernandez has all the instincts of Owen but with time and fitness on his side.
Owen was not necessarily given adequate chances to shine when he was fit and available but could he still cut it in a United shirt?
Sir Alex was right to show Owen the door
The answer is probably yes but at the end of the day, Ferguson chose not to renew the striker’s contract, so it’s onto a new chapter for the player.
Despite much speculation regarding the location of Owen’s next club, he was unable to find a new home as time ticked away on deadline day of August’s transfer window.
Just five minutes before the window slammed shut, Owen wrote on his Twitter account that he would see what would happen in the coming days.
Now, rumours are swirling around Merseyside that he could be set for a dramatic return to Liverpool.
Kopites would welcome him back with open arms at present, despite his flirt with their most-hated enemies from down the M62.
Goals are in short supply at Anfield
Having allowed £35m flop, Andy Carroll to join West Ham United on loan for the rest of the season, the Reds’ attacking options are, being kind, very bare.
Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers expected to complete the signing of Fulham’s £7m rated American attacker, Clint Dempsey as Carroll’s replacement on deadline day but the deal never materialised.
Dempsey hopped across London to Tottenham and Rodgers and the club’s investors were left with faces redder than the hallowed shirt.
With just Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini and a selection of misfiring and over-rated midfielders to provide the League Cup holders with a cutting edge, Owen would fit in perfectly.
No-one will ever doubt his scoring prowess and he remains a predatory figure. A run of games would also boost his fitness levels in a team crying out for goals.
Suarez has verve but no cutting edge
Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal offered another timely reminder that something extra is required to change the club’s ailing fortunes.
Suarez is a talented footballer who adds verve and excitement at Anfleld but is not known for a huge goal tally.
48 goals in a modest Dutch League for Ajax does not suffice argument… just ask former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman.
Strike partner Borini is also unlikely to provide a major killer touch, having only managed nine goals with AS Roma in Serie A last season.
A move back to Liverpool could also turn out to be Owen’s ‘Indian summer’ as he nears the end of an eventful career.
A goalscoring run in the struggling side would make it hard for England coach, Roy Hodgson to ignore the 32-year-old’s worth to his country.
These are all mere foresights of what could lie ahead for the unattached Englishman.
Right for both parties
Stoke City also currently remain interested in the striker’s expertise and are pondering a ‘pay-as-you-play’ agreement.
A deal convenient for club more than player but with the former Real Madrid striker’s injury résumé comparable only to 2003 Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson, it’s a wise offer.
However, some would say that Owen owes the club that helped make him into one of the world’s top forwards.
Therefore, if the Reds were to table a bid, then the timing would certainly be right for both parties and could quieten agitated supporters who may wonder what has become of their once great club.
By Tom Sharp
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