United Sign Michael Owen: Could It Be A Better Signing Than Benzema?
After passing a medical and further tests, Michael Owen has signed a two-year deal with Manchester United, moving on a free transfer. The deal comes just days after news broke that Lyon star, and United target, Karim Benzema would be joining big-spending Real Madrid.
Many felt that the 21-year-old French international was possibly leaning towards a move to Old Trafford, as Sir Alex Ferguson had been a admirer for some time and United were on the lookout for striking options with the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez.
The fact that United also had at least £80 million in their pocketbooks also provided the idea they had more than enough to deal for the forward.
But then stepped in Madrid, also in search of an alternative to their failed exploits of signing Valencia's David Villa. They pounced quickly to bag Benzema, consequently leaving United in a very unfortunate situation.
With heavy price tags and wages applied to Europe's big guns such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Aguero, and Samuel Eto'o; or blatant refusals to migrate to the Premier League by stars like Franck Ribery and David Villa, the Red Devils found themselves in the unfamiliar realm of not being solely linked with a great player when they wanted him.
The Antonio Valencia deal was a positive, but United had lost 40+ goals from last season and were only losing out on people to fill that void.
And to rise from the depths of relegated Newcastle United was Mr. Owen, who inevitably will be seen as United's reflex signing to the loss of Benz to Madrid. By no means is this really the case, as surely Ferguson will continue to search for another attacking option, but in some ways Owen could actually be better for United than Benzema.
First off, there is the obvious and impossible to ignore difference how much the player were to transfer. Karim Benzema comes in at £29.7 million (possibly £34.8, pending performance) while Owen was a staggering "£0".
Also Owen's contract is said to be fairly average and incentive-based while Benz will more than likely get a much larger deal. If Owen is to be a bust, so be it. It will not have hurt United too much as he cost nothing to bring him in, and essentially if he does nothing, he gets nothing.
If United were to spend big on another forward and have him flop in his first season as well (no offence Berba), it would reflect poorly.
Another point is that Benz would be another foreign player who would have to come in and adjust to the different playing style of English football. Some have easily managed the transition (Fernando Torres) while some great players (Diego Forlan) found plenty success elsewhere but weren't able to cope in England.
It would be another risk.
Owen has shown in the past that he can be a strong force in the Premier League. Even in his "terrible" stint with a underachieving Newcastle team with a slew internal problems he still managed a fairly decent strike rate with 30 goals from 76 appearances in all competitions.
If he were to stay away from the trainer, he could be even more effective with United, who easily would have the better supporting cast.
Thirdly, the status of the players in terms of there reputations and performance following last season must be taken into account. Benzema is a French national team regular, the undisputed forward star of his former team, and he was wanted by just about anyone who could afford him.
Wherever he is, he will be expecting to be the number choice even through a rough patch. He'll possibly want to lead the frontline like he did at Lyon and also seal his spot for France's World Cup squad.
If he were at United, it could virtually be a Carlos Tevez situation all over again, a player not getting the amount of action he wants. Owen on the other hand, has been out of his national side for some time and was practically an outcast of Europe's elite teams. While he'll want to be named for the Three Lions for WC2010, he's happy enough to be on a side as good as United and we'll relish the role of Tevez.
He isn't expected to be a first team regular, as Ferguson has surely told him. And given his past couple of years and the other places he could have ended up, he'll be willing to fit in as a role player.
So, head-to-head, most definitely just about everyone on this planet would take Benzema over Owen, but given the circumstances, United fans at least could soon be thinking it the other way around. Only time will tell the value of a signing such as this. He's been given the opportunity, the ball is now in Owen's court
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