United to sign Owen on pay-per-play deal

Michael Owen will join Manchester United today as long as he passes a stringent medical – and accepts a massive cut in his basic salary by signing what amounts to a pay-per-play deal. FourFourTwo understands that the striker, a free agent since his Newcastle contract lapsed on Tuesday, will be offered a contract which handsomely rewards him for appearances and goals on top of a drastically reduced basic wage. Owen was paid £120,000 a week at St James' Park but his injury problems mean he will get nowhere near that from his next club – whoever it may be. Aston Villa, Stoke, Hull and Everton have been linked with moves, with the Toffees said to be willing to pay £50,000 a week. However, despite Owen's boyhood allegiance to Everton, David Moyes will accept that the striker is far more likely to sign for Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United manager is a longterm admirer, having tried to sign him as a boy, and is willing to take a relatively low-risk gamble on reuniting Owen with former England partner Wayne Rooney. For his part, Owen has hardly been presented with a plethora of top-class clubs interested in his services; two days ago, Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce ruled out any possible move, citing worry over Owen's recurrent injuries. Given his lack of options, and the glorious possibilities offered by joining a United team stripped of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Owen should willingly submit to a radical new pay structure – especially if it keeps him in Fabio Capello's thoughts during the run-up to World Cup 2010.

And if Owen can rediscover the goalscoring form that so delighted fans of Liverpool and Real Madrid, then the deal could work out very well for player, club and country.