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Owen leaves Anfield for Real Madrid

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Real deal as Owen leaves Anfield

Michael Owen is to leave Liverpool for Real Madrid - much to the regret of Anfield boss Rafael Benitez.

Michael Owen: Bound for the Bernabeau (RossKinnaird/GettyImages)

Spaniard Benitez confirmed 24-year-old England striker Owen is to quit the club he has served throughout his professional career, with midfielder Antonio Nunez expected to move in the opposite direction.

The Reds manager made no secret of his disappointment at losing Owen, whose departure is the biggest in a glut of high-profile defections from Anfield in recent months.

Owen has been lured to the continent by Real with just a year left on his Anfield contract in a deal thought to be worth £8million to the Merseysiders and Benitez admits in the end he was unable to do anything to stop it going through.

The former Valencia coach, who replaced Gerard Houllier as Liverpool boss earlier this summer, said: 'When I came here he [Owen] had one year left on his contract.

'Real Madrid knew that, and when a big club like them come knocking you cannot control it.

'We were very happy with Michael - we wanted Michael here for a lot of years. But a long time had gone by without signing a new contract, and Madrid knew that. Last year Real Madrid tried to sign the player - and now they have done.'

Confirmation that Owen is to leave comes just two days after the departure from Liverpool of his fellow England player Danny Murphy, who has gone to Charlton.

England forward Emile Heskey was another notable summer transfer from Liverpool, also moving south to join the Reds' Barclays Premiership rivals Birmingham.

Benitez can at least console himself with the fact that Liverpool captain and midfield lynchpin Steven Gerrard resisted the overtures of cash-rich Chelsea to stay at Anfield.

Now, though, he has to come to terms with perhaps the most damaging departure of all.

'Michael will have a medical with Madrid before the deal is completed,' Benitez reported.

'I was very happy with Michael and I wanted him to stay. The problem was he only had a year left on his contract. Real Madrid started talking with his agent, and in the end it was impossible.

'The money from his sale will be used to balance the team. We still have good forwards here and a good team. We did our best to keep him - but, as I say, in the end it was a difficult situation for us.'

The manager will now have to rethink his gameplan at Liverpool without a player who had scored 158 goals in 297 matches for them.

'I must explain that we were very, very happy with Michael. He trains well and is a fantastic player,' said Benitez.

'For us it is bad - but at the end it was impossible. He will sign a contract with a good team in Real Madrid, and we need to use this money.'

Benitez made it clear he was hoping right up till the last minute to hang on to Owen - and he was planning ahead on that same premise.

'The only thing I can say is that last Tuesday I talked with him about the match and his position on the bench - everything was normal for him and me.

'Everyone talked about the situation afterwards. But for me it was very easy - he had only one year left, and Madrid called.'

Madrid have confirmed that Owen will undergo his medical this evening before signing for the club.

A statement on the club website, www.realmadrid.com read: 'Real Madrid CF informs that this Friday evening, the player Michael Owen will take his medical in the Zarzuela Clinic, in Madrid, the step prior to his signing as the new player of Real Madrid.'

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Bloody stupid. If i was owen i wouldnt wanna go there, they already have Ronaldo and Raul and Morientes.......I'm sure he could find a club with a little less striker depth. Yea he'll play but not as much i bet as with the reds and possibly out of position.

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quote:Originally posted by beachesl

Looks like the Reds are becoming an international team more than ever, not just a team representing the home countries. At least they got an Irishman, Finnan, to keep up its reputation as "Ireland's club team" (along with Celtic).

I think you're confusing the Reds with the Red Devils when referring them as Ireland's club team.

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