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Michael Owen reveals deal with Newcastle to sell him to Liverpool in 2006

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Michael Owen has revealed that he tried to return to Liverpool ‘every year’ after joining Real Madrid in 2004 and even had an agreement with Newcastle that they would sell him back to the Reds for a fee that would further diminish every season that he stayed at St. James’ Park.

Owen had set the world alight at Anfield after breaking through as a 17-year-old in 1997, even becoming the most recent Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or in 2001.

But after a 2003/04 campaign affected by injuries, albeit one that still yielded 16 Premier League goals in 29 appearances, Liverpool cashed in by accepting an £8m offer from Real Madrid.

Despite 13 La Liga goals, Owen struggled to establish himself alongside competition from Ronaldo and Raul, with Fernando Morientes actually leaving for Liverpool midway through the 2004/05 season in search of more game time.

Still only 25 at the time, he was trying to engineer a return to Liverpool after only one season in Spain. But Newcastle blew the Reds out of the water with a £16m offer.

“[Liverpool] sold me for £8m, and put in a bid of £10m and I thought ‘I’m going to go home’,” Owen explained as a guest on the latest episode of BT Sport’s What I Wore.

The retired star went on to explain that Real president Florentino Perez came to see him during pre-season to inform him of a bid from an ‘English team’ he assumed to be Liverpool and that it was his choice whether to take the offer or stay in Madrid.

“I said I’d prefer to go back now, I’ve had a great experience but I’d prefer to go back thinking it’s Liverpool,” Owen recalled. “[Perez] 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.

“I was like no, I’ll go back to Liverpool but I’m not going anywhere else. He said 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’, obviously putting on a poker face.”

Owen had already had contact from Newcastle through manager Graeme Souness, refusing to completely shut down the Magpies out of politeness to the Liverpool legend.

He also admitted he tried to get Liverpool to up their offer without success, eventually conceding that he needed to take the Newcastle deal if it meant playing more the season before a World Cup.

“I spoke to Liverpool again and said, ‘If you just go to £12m, I’ll hold my nerve and force them into a corner’. 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 and Raul.

“We had a World Cup coming up at the end of the year, and I need to play all of the time. I spoke to Newcastle, and Newcastle agreed that if I signed for them, I could do one year and they would then sell me to Liverpool for an agreed fee of £12m.

“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 was I was hopefully going to be going back for £12m, did my knee [at the World Cup], so then Liverpool bought [Fernando] Torres [in 2007] and [Luis] Suarez [in 2011], and it just never happened…at the end of every year, I obviously tried to go back.”

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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