Al Shabab in transfer talks with Michael Owen
DUBAI // Al Shabab have confirmed they are in talks with the former England striker Michael Owen to bring the striker to the Pro League club.
Owen, the youngest player to represent England in the 20th century, is a free agent after being released by Manchester United earlier this month and English clubs such as Stoke City have expressed their interest in the 32-year-old frontman.
Owen, however, is looking for a move to the UAE and his agent has been in talks with the Al Mamzar club for the past two days. The Englishman has been a regular visitor to Dubai for his annual holidays and has good relations with the country's sports officials.
"We are meeting a number of agents these days and Michael's is one of them," said Saeed Al Marri, the executive director of Shabab. "There are two other people on the list as well.
"Michael is a big name in football and his presence here can bring a lot of attention to the UAE and Al Shabab. So if his financial demands are within our budget, why not?"
Al Marri, however, made it clear their interest in Owen is not just a marketing gimmick. The club's management believes he still has a lot to offer as a player and Shabab's young players could benefit from his vast experience.
"We are looking for a good player who can serve Al Shabab well and I believe Michael comes under this category," Al Marri said.
"We are hoping to do something good for Al Shabab, so let's see what happens."
According to sources in England, Owen is asking for €4 million (Dh22.915m) a year in wages.
Shabab are looking for two foreign players for the new season and if the Owen deal goes through, he will replace Brazilian striker Kieza.
The club, who have renewed the contracts of Ciel, the Brazilian winger, and Azizbek Haydarov, the Uzbek midfielder, are also on the lookout for a midfielder to cover Carlos Villanueva, who is expected to be out until December following cruciate ligament surgery.
In a decade-long career with the England national team, Owen won 89 caps, the last of which came in 2008, and scored 40 goals, the third highest total for the Three Lions. He appeared in three World Cups and two European Championships.
After bursting on the scene as a teenager with hometown club Liverpool in 1996, he moved to Real Madrid in Spain after 297 matches and 158 goals for the Anfield giants.
Following a successful season in the Primera Liga, he returned to the English Premier League with Newcastle United in 2005 but was plagued by injury during his four years on Tyneside. He moved on to Manchester United four years later.
Although he won his first Premier League winner's medal in 2010/11, Owen was rarely ever than more a back-up forward for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, and left Old Trafford with a record of 17 goals in just over 50 appearances.
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Updated: June 26, 2012 04:00 AM