Premier League champions Manchester United are set to sign out-of-favor England striker Michael Owen on a surprise free transfer deal, reports in the British press said yesterday.
The move could be tied up later in the day if Owen passes a medical.
The striker’s contract with Newcastle, relegated from the English top-flight last season, ended on Wednesday.
It seemed the only clubs interested in signing the 29-year-old former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker were Stoke and Hull — both Premier League sides but, teams for whom staying up was an achievement in itself.
However, they now appear to have been joined by United, who have seen forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez both leave Old Trafford since the end of last season.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly planning to sign Owen, whose time at Newcastle was blighted by a succession of injury problems, on a pay-as-you-play deal.
Owen’s weekly wage at Newcastle, for whom he scored 10 goals last season, was believed to be around £120,000 (US$197,000), but reports said he would take a substantial paycut to sign for a leading Premier League club.
The forward, who has scored 40 goals in 89 England appearances, has yet to persuade England coach Fabio Capello he has a future at international level.
But Owen’s career could be rejuvenated by playing alongside the likes of England striker Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, Chelsea said they had “completely rejected” an offer reported to be in the region of £30 million by Manchester City for their captain John Terry.
This was City’s second attempt to lure the 28-year-old, who is under contract until 2012, to Eastlands and as with the first offer City met with a clear rejection.
A statement on Chelsea’s Web site said yesterday: “It was made clear, for the second time, that we would not entertain any conversation on the subject. We would like to make it clear, and we will not do so again, that John is not for sale.”
City manager Mark Hughes has already signed Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn and Gareth Barry from Aston villa for a combined total of £30 million this summer.