Owen agrees to join Magpies

Last updated at 12:38 30 August 2005

Michael Owen will be unveiled as a Newcastle player following his return from international duty with England next week.

The 25-year-old was due to undergo a medical on Tyneside this afternoon after agreeing a four-year deal with the Magpies, but will then meet up with Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Northern Ireland.

Owen is suspended for Saturday's clash with John Toshack's men, but will be in contention for a return against the Irish on Wednesday.

"The player will undergo a medical on Tuesday afternoon and Newcastle United hope to unveil him at a press conference next week following his return from international duty," said a club spokesman.

"Bringing Michael to St James' Park will rank alongside the signing of Alan Shearer as my proudest moment at Newcastle United," chairman Freddy Shepherd told the club's official website, www.nufc.co.uk.

"Newcastle fans love centre-forwards and Michael is a fantastic goalscorer. He's someone we would love to build the team around and we hope he can help us bring success to the club."

Owen's decision comes less than 24 hours after he travelled to the north-east to meet Souness, chairman Freddy Shepherd and former international team-mate Shearer to discuss his future following talks with the Anfield club.

Change of heart

It represents a major change of heart from the player, who has always insisted a return to Merseyside was his preferred option despite indicating he would be prepared to join the Magpies on loan for a season.

But Real's need to raise cash to help fund their bid for Sevilla defender Sergio Ramos and Newcastle's insistence on a permanent deal meant that was not an option.

Reports today suggested Owen was returning to Liverpool for further talks amid speculation his former club had finally made a formal approach, although with the Reds unwilling to spend significantly more than the £8million for which they sold him to the Spanish aristocrats last summer, Newcastle had gained the upper hand.

There have even been hints the striker could bide his time at the Bernabeu Stadium until the January window with the latest transfer deadline looming tomorrow night.

Owen's future has been the subject of intense speculation for months, and that grew on Sunday when he did not even make the bench for his side's opening La Liga fixture in Cadiz.

Newcastle's latest coup is reminiscent of their £15million capture of Shearer back in July 1996, and a similar return on their investment this time around would be welcome with Souness' side having collected just one point from their first four Barclays Premiership games this season without scoring a single goal.

For Owen too, the move will give him regular first-team football as the World Cup finals approach, and that will be of immense comfort to England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Sacchi 'upset'

Real Madrid director of football Arrigo Sacchi said on Tuesday that he was sorry to see England striker Michael Owen leave the club after just 12 months.

"We are upset because we have lost a great professional, a top-class player and someone who was always very positive," the Italian told Real Madrid's website.

"Real Madrid were happy with him and we would like to thank him for everything he has done here and wish him the very best in the future.

"He asked us if he could leave because it is a World Cup year and he wasn't going to play here regularly. We didn't want to loan him out and it was only when a big offer was made did that we accepted the idea of selling him.

"We've certainly lost something with his departure, but you can't keep a player who wants to leave and especially one has got such clear reasons. He is one of the best strikers in the world and here we have Robinho, Guti, Raul and Ronaldo and he wasn't going to play much."

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