Aston Villa would have to make Michael Owen their highest paid player to have a chance of signing the striker, who is out of contract at Newcastle.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill refused to rule out the possibility of signing Owen this summer when asked about the England international during the January transfer window.

And he is expected to step up his bid to sign the injury-hit player, who was understood to be on a six-figure weekly wage at St James' Park.

Villa would be reluctant to pay that sort of figure for a player whose appearances for the Magpies have been severely restricted.

But they are understood to be willing to make him their top wage earner, ahead of the likes of Ashley Young.

O'Neill has lost the services of Gareth Barry to Manchester City and former captain Martin Laursen through his enforced retirement with a knee problem.

But a signing of the quality of Owen - for all his fitness doubts - would lift some of the doom and gloom amongst sections of Villa fans after Barry's departure.

The likes of Tottenham, Everton and Roma are also being linked with Owen.

O'Neill, when asked in January if he would be interested in signing Owen this summer, said: "We would see. Like everything else, football is evolving all the time.

"That's not to say Michael Owen is not a terrific footballer. What happens in the future, I don't know."

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Internationals
Football
Manchester City
Gareth Barry
Michael Owen
Premier League
Newcastle United
Ashley Young
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Aston Villa