Michael Owen, who is not fondly remembered by Newcastle supporters following his spell at St James' Park, has detailed that he planned to return to Liverpool – and said that it was agreed between the two clubs.
The former England striker left Anfield for Real Madrid for £8million back in 2004, deciding the following summer that he warned to return to Liverpool where he scored 118 league goals after making his debut in 1996.
However, that dream would not become a reality with the forward heading to Newcastle and staying there for three seasons – and he has now explained how he never wanted to move to the North East.
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Owen said on BT Sport's What I Wore this week: "I was just sort of too nice and too respectful, because when it came to it when I was leaving Real Madrid, I spoke to Liverpool as they wanted me back, they put in a bid of £10 million.
"So they'd sold me for £8m, and put in a bid of £10m and I thought I'm there, I'm going to go home. The [Real Madrid] president knocks on the door of my hotel room before a pre-season game and says 'we've had a bid from an English team, how are you feeling? We've loved having you here, you're absolutely welcome to stay but if you want to go home, it's your call'.
"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. He 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.
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"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.
"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, Raul and [Fernando] Morientes.
"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, so then Liverpool bought [Fernando] Torres and [Luis] Suarez, and it just never happened.
"At the end of every year, I obviously tried to go back. But I've got make it clear, that's not to say I didn't have any love for [Newcastle], but when you have a love for a team…no one can blame me for that. Alan Shearer would have done the same for Newcastle.
"I had a great time – lots of people say otherwise, but four years up there. I lived up there despite what people thought, it's a great city. It was brilliant, but I just wanted to play for Liverpool. That was the only problem."
Owen then spent three years with Manchester United and a season at Stoke before retiring, winning the only league title of his career while at Old Trafford.
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