When Michael Owen announced himself with that brilliant solo effort against Argentina nobody would have guessed that 14 years later he would be without a club for the new Premier League season.
Equally absurd was the notion that the then Liverpool star would one day play for Everton. However, he we are one game into the new season and Owen is without a club and, if you believe the reports, on the verge of joining the Toffees.
It’s understandable. The age old argument that a goal scorer will score goals no matter what. And Owen, for all his frailties is a goal scorer. But add age, wages and injury problems to the equation and he is not such an attractive prospect.
David Moyes’ interest in the striker is thought to be due to his desire to add strength in depth. As a back up, Owen is not a bad option. The idea of sending him on with 20 minutes to go is perhaps more appealing than sending on Victor Anichebe.
But do Everton need more options up top? Kevin Mirallas looks an exciting prospect and would be the first choice to replace Nikica Jelavic. Then there is Steven Naismith, Anichebe and Apostolos Vellios if he doesn’t go out on loan. It’s a gamble that might not pay off but giving youngsters such as Vellios a chance could be far more beneficial than letting an ageing pro extend his career.
Owen has made a great deal of the fact he still has something to offer, often pointing to the 17 goals he scored in 52 games. A decent return, but seven of those goals came in the Carling Cup.
His effectiveness of the bench is reliant on him being fit. An injury prone 30 something, sound familiar? Everton let Louis Saha go in January. With the Frenchman’s all round game superior to Owen’s you would wonder why Moyes would want him. A pay as you play deal has been mentioned, which is much less of a risk, given that wages are thought to have proved a stumbling block in Tony Pulis’ pursuit of him.
The Stoke boss described Owen as ‘a great professional’. It’s an opinion many in the game would agree with. But forgetting all other factors, the biggest worry is whether Owen still has that burning desire to succeed at the top level. Or does he want a final pay day?
It is public knowledge that Goodison Park is his preferred destination. It’s close to his home and more importantly it’s close to his horses. If you believe Daniel Taylor’s article in the Guardian then football comes a distant second to Owen’s horses. A committed Owen is a risk, a half hearted one doesn’t bare thinking about.
So yes, a fully fit Michael Owen could be an asset to Everton. But for every positive there a numerous negatives. 18 other Premier League managers are obviously unwilling to take a chance on him and from an Everton perspective, neither should David Moyes.
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