Stoke City have handed Michael Owen a Premier League lifeline – but does the former England striker have what it takes to still make an impact at the top-level?
Here we look at both sides of the argument that has got tongues wagging among football fans:
Anyone in doubt of Owen’s pedigree only needs to look at his goal record.
The diminutive striker has plundered over 220 goals in under 500 games during his club career and scored a further 40 in 89 appearances for England. And considering he will turn 33 in December, Owen feasibly still has a couple more seasons in the top flight in the tank if he can find some form at the Britannia Stadium.
Judging by the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle United star’s reaction to finally finding a club after a summer of uncertainty, Stoke have landed a player with a point to prove.
And signing a motivated Owen could prove to be a masterstroke from the Potters as they bid to evolve in the top flight.
Yes, injury scuppered Owen at Manchester United. Yes, he has become something of a forgotten figure. But when he played for United, more often than not he made an impact. Remember his match-winning goal against Manchester City?
World-class finishers like Owen know where the net is, know how to be in the right place at the right time and show composer under pressure.
Granted, he probably won’t start every week for Stoke, but when he is introduced if you like to have a flutter on football at Ladbrokes.com or with other bookies you know there’ll be a good chance he’ll do the business.
At 32, Owen’s best days are long gone.
While much older players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes continue to be important players at club level for Manchester United, injuries have ravaged Owen’s career in recent years.
So much so that Owen has started just one Premier League game in the last two seasons – and his last goal in any competition came last October. That’s nearly 12 months without a goal!
With huge question marks hanging over his fitness, pundits have also questioned whether Owen still has the passion for football as his much-publicised hobby as a racehorse trainer seems to have taken centre stage during his United days.
Plus the Premier League has changed since the days Owen terrorised opposition defenders week in, week out – and it has changed a lot! The game is played at a much higher tempo and younger players are more determined than ever to get noticed.
Owen may have predatory instinct in and around the penalty box, but he’s not as fast as he once was.
Can Stoke boss Tony Pulis get the best out of Owen? Will Peter Crouch help Owen roll back the years? There are a lot of questions that need answering!
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