Manchester United will not be offering another deal to former England striker Michael Owen – where next for the former Liverpool striker?
Owen has had three seasons with the Old Trafford club, all of which were disrupted with injury and forced him to accept a lesser role.
Once England’s golden boy, it is hard to think that, when he retires, people will deem his career to be a story of unfortunate underachievement.
Owen tries to sum up his situation succinctly when discussing his next move, though manages to ignore a rather important factor in his particular situation.
“I am only 32. I might look a bit older than that but obviously looking at the likes of Scholesy and Giggsy it doesn't half fill you with a lot of motivation and confidence that they are playing into their mid-to-late thirties and I still feel as if I am reasonably young,” Owen told Sky Sports News.
“When I wake up my body feels good even though I have had a few injuries. I don't wake up with sore joints or anything like that.
“At 32 I definitely owe it to myself to still have two or three years and hopefully play a bit more for somebody else.”
To say he has 'had a few injuries’ is a considerable understatement and they are probably the main reason he professes to have painless mornings.
Retirement is not necessary but Owen’s list of ailments will surely make anyone think twice about offering him a contract, though the prospect of him on a free transfer will likely spur someone into taking a risk.
There was an interesting exchange between Owen and Matt Le Tissier on Twitter this week where the Southampton legend suggested the former Real Madrid striker should consider a move to the newly-promoted club.
Having ruled out dropping down to the Championship, Owen indicated he was open to offers and while that wasn’t exactly an official approach, it would not be a bad move for him.
Southampton have gathered some irresistible momentum over the past two seasons and have managed two straight promotions, fired by the goals of Rickie Lambert.
The south coast side have managed this by infusing a few talented youngsters with some more experienced lower league faces, so the top flight nous Owen possesses would be welcome.
The Saints would probably have trouble meeting Owen’s wages, however, but there is a mid-table club who are crying out for a proven goalscorer to help them relocate the finishing touch to their attacks.
They have other things on their mind at the moment with trying to find a new manager, but a move there could happen once the new boss is instlled. Yes, it’s Liverpool.
How would the fans receive their former hero after he spent so much time with bitter rivals United? Any dissenters would soon be brought round by a goal or two and the nostalgia of Owen back in the red of Merseyside could inspire him to rediscover some of his deadly scoring form.
There should be no financial problem with signing him, though ageing stars aren’t really the kind of additions Fenway Sports Group have invested in with their baseball franchises in the past.
Owen could do the opposite and burn all bridges he had with his former club by signing for the other team from Merseyside.
Everton have no transfer budget to speak of and have been scouring for Bosman bargains for a while – except for the signing of Nikica Jelavic of course, who was acquired with the money from Mikel Arteta’s move to Arsenal.
Owen may be forced to take a pay cut for a move to Goodison Park, but this is likely to be the reality he is facing.
Sadly for Owen, his time at the top is most probably at an end and less prestigious clubs just will not be able to accommodate his wage demands, especially when there can be no guarantees over his fitness.
Nobody wants to make an expensive addition to their treatment room so a pay-as-you-play deal could well be an option, though this is hardly ideal for the man himself.
Owen is enthusiastic about his chances of continuing to score goals at the highest level, but it is hard to dismiss the view that we may well have seen the last of Michael Owen as any kind of force in the Premier League.
Gary Lineker also took to Twitter in order to comment on the latest developments, calling Owen “a world class goalscorer who but for injury would have broken many records.”
It is an accurate, though tragic, assessment of Owen’s career and is probably one that is shared by most.
Other than is incredible early years at Anfield, it always seemed to be a case of what could have been and never what was.
Despite FA Cup final heroics, Munich hat tricks and blasting onto the world’s consciousness in 1998, there was a pervading feeling around Owen that we had only ever gotten a glimpse of an English football great.