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Owen, Owen, Gone?

Hargreaves: A Medical Bill Matched Only By Michael Jackson

Meet Owen Hargreaves. The name sounds familiar right? You just can’t place where you’ve heard it? Well, believe it or not he’s a Manchester United player, and has been for three seasons now.

Don’t worry; you can’t be blamed for forgetting about the Canadian-born English international. Due to a series of injuries, the 29-year-old has only played 30 seconds of football since September 2008. In fact, since joining Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the summer of 2007 from Bayern Munich, Owen Hargreaves has featured in the first team only 38 times.

Yet, in spite of his knee ailments, the midfielder is still highly regarded around Old Trafford. In the limited amount of games which he has played, Hargreaves has produced several stirring displays that have kept his name indelible on the Manchester United roster.

In the lead up to Manchester United’s Champions League win in 2008, Hargreaves’s work-rate and talent became almost irreplaceable. With his good form coinciding with the club’s growing defensive crisis, the midfielder, having already proven his ability that season – scoring a glorious free-kick against Arsenal, was then required to exhibit another important attribute at the zenith of the European game: his versatility. The England international dutifully filled in at right-back in the semi-finals against Barcelona and in right-midfield against Chelsea in the final. Incredibly, nothing about any of those performances would’ve given away the fact that he was covering someone else’s position.

But that’s two years ago now. Since then, he has been maligned by constant reoccurring injury and the brief glimpses of him that have been on show have provided an insight into a player that looks like a shadow of his former self.

Now, the player signed for £17million, has been told to stay in America until he can prove his fitness.

Speaking to the press, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed: ‘He is back in Colorado with a recurrence of the knee injury, which is of great concern to us. He will remain there until he is ready to come back into training. There is no point in him leaving the people who have treated him and performed the operation, only for us to send him back again.’

The big concern for Ferguson will be that Hargreaves now only has a year left on his contract. The club looks unlikely to recoup any of the £17million they handed over to Bayern Munich in his current condition and so the midfielder may leave on a free transfer at next year. There is the option of a pay as you play contract, but Ferguson will have to consider whether introducing those terms to an injury-prone 30-year-old, rather than allowing Hargreaves to call it a day, would be worthwhile.

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