Owen completes stunning United move

Michael Owen has joined English champions Manchester United on a two-year contract, the club announced on Friday.

updated: July 04, 2009 18:02 IST
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Michael Owen has joined English champions Manchester United on a two-year contract, the club announced on Friday, in a remarkable turnaround for the injury-prone striker.

England forward Owen, 29, a free agent after his Newcastle contract expired last week, underwent a medical at a Manchester hospital on Friday before returning to United's Carrington training ground to complete the shock deal.

The move came after the only clubs interested in signing the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker appeared to be Stoke and Hull - both clubs for whom staying in the Premier League is an achievement in itself.

Owen underwent an examination Thursday on the knee injury which sidelined him for much of his time at Newcastle.

But United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has seen Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez leave Old Trafford in the close season, insisted signing Owen did not represent a gamble on his part.

"Michael is a world-class forward with a proven goalscoring record at the highest level and that has never been in question," said Ferguson.

"Coming to Manchester United with the expectations that we have is something that Michael will relish."

It has been reported that Ferguson has signed a pay as you play deal with Owen, whose weekly wage at Newcastle was believed to have been as high as 120,000 pounds (197,000 dollars).

Owen, who scored just 10 goals for the Magpies as they were relegated from the Premier League last season, said he'd been as stunned as anyone by United's interest in him.

"I had just begun to talk to other clubs when out of the blue Sir Alex phoned me on Wednesday afternoon, invited me to have breakfast with him next morning during which he told me that he wanted to sign me," Owen revealed.

"I agreed without a moment's thought. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I intend to seize it with both hands."

He added: "I am now looking forward to being a Manchester United player and I am fortunate that I already know so many of the players here.

"I missed pre-season last year and am pleased that I will be starting at Carrington from day one.

"I want to thank Sir Alex for the faith he has shown in me and I give him my assurance that I will repay him with my goals and performances."

Owen joined Newcastle from Real Madrid in 2005 but his time at St James' Park was blighted by a litany of injuries, including foot, concussion, knee, thigh, groin, ankle and calf problems.

Before the deal was confirmed, former Liverpool striker Ian Rush said the move would benefit both Owen and the Merseyside club's fiercest rivals.

"People said he was finished years ago but he's a fantastic player who comes back stronger and better," Rush told Sky Sports.

"It's a chance for Michael to get back and score some goals. He'll get chances for Manchester United and will score goals."

Owen, who has scored 40 goals in 89 England appearances, has yet to persuade England coach Fabio Capello he has a future at international level.

But his career could be rejuvenated by playing alongside the likes of England striker Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.