Kevin Keegan believes he is close to persuading Michael Owen to extend his contract at Newcastle beyond next summer.
Michael Owen – consoled by James after his miss on Saturday
Kevin talked to the Newcastle Journal this morning about Michael Owen:
â€œI had a talk with him last week and I donâ€™t see thereâ€™s any problem there,â€ â€œHe wants to stay, I think. I think heâ€™s enjoying his football. He enjoys it at Newcastle, thereâ€™s no doubt about it.â€â€œAll this people have said before that heâ€™s not really committed, heâ€™s proving that (his commitment) on the pitch and he hasnâ€™t had the chance to do that here because of injuries.â€
â€œPeople have probably a bit unfairly asked, is he totally committed?” Iâ€™m the best person to answer that and itâ€™s yes with a capital â€˜Yâ€™.â€ â€œHeâ€™s totally taken over the dressing room with a couple of other players and said: â€˜Letâ€™s get this club where it should be.â€™ Heâ€™ll be our main signing next season. Regardless of who comes and how much they cost, Michael Owen signing for us will be our biggest signing.â€
â€œMichaelâ€™s a great pro,â€ â€œI think he is enjoying it (the new role). You can tell by his demeanor and the way heâ€™s playing. Itâ€™s shown another side to him which Iâ€™m sure he knew he had but Iâ€™m not sure everyone else realized.â€ â€œHeâ€™s a real team player and a real clever footballer. If youâ€™ve got those qualities you can play anywhere but I think itâ€™s the best position for him.â€
Keegan does not expect the more withdrawn role, behind Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins, to impact on Owenâ€™s goalscoring record, which of course is Michael’s greatest value. Saturday was the first time Owen had played in the position without scoring, but went really close when David James got his head in the way of Michael’s volley from 5 yards, when a goal looked almost certain.
â€œI would expect Michael always, in an injury-free season, to be in the top two or three scorers in the Premiership,â€ â€œBecause heâ€™s clever heâ€™s got to choose the right time to go and he does.â€
â€œHeâ€™ll probably find as he gets older heâ€™ll score more goals from less chances because thatâ€™s what happens as you get older. You donâ€™t quite get as many chances but you do know what to do when you get there.â€
â€œI think he can play that role for England as well if Fabio Capello chooses to do that. Maybe itâ€™s just freshened him up a little bit. Maybe after a while we might decide heâ€™s got to go back up front because of the players weâ€™ve got available or the new players we bring in.â€
â€œHeâ€™s been scoring goals in a very poor team â€“ or rather very poor performances, I should say. I donâ€™t think anyone should worry about Michael Owen, heâ€™s a prize asset for England.â€
It’s been really obvious that Kevin has been impressed with Michael both on and off the field since he arrived back at the club. It will help that Keegan played in much the same role as Michael, and Kevin will understand the difficulties Michael has had with his fame and injuries, having been through the same thing.
We don’t think there’s any doubt that Michael will sign for Newcastle and have an extended stay on Tyneside, and that his signing will be the first of many this summer.