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Stoke maintain Owen interest

Peter Coates will continue to negotiate with Michael Owen over a potential transfer to Stoke City and insists hope of a deal to sign the former England international is not dead.

• Crouch urges Owen to join Stoke
• Hubbard: Owen's lack of hunger

It appeared over the weekend that Owen had blighted his chances of a Premier League swansong at the Britannia Stadium when his wage demands were revealed to be around £70,000 a week.

Stoke chairman Coates last held negotiations with Owen's advisors around ten days ago, and the two parties remain "a million miles away" from a satisfactory conclusion to a transfer saga that has rumbled on since the striker left Old Trafford at the end of last season.

Coates has made it clear that the 32-year-old free agent would have to seriously re-evaluate his demands if he is to secure a deal from Tony Pulis to extend his career in the Premier League.

Rather than close all avenues of negotiation, Coates is prepared to wait until the end of the transfer window to see if the lack of suitors willing to meet Owen's demands will bring about a "reality check" for the striker.

Everton, Fulham and Stoke have all expressed an interest, and Owen has made it clear he has no intention of dropping down a level into the Championship despite a host of offers.

Stoke are willing to hand him a 12-month pay-as-you-play contract, similar to the one given to Jonathan Woodgate last season, with an incentive for a further 12-months - but it would only be worth around half of what Owen is demanding.

The club are still looking at potential ways of getting more leeway in their wage budget, with the possibility of Kenwyne Jones following Ricardo Fuller out of the Britannia Stadium.

Even then, Stoke would be reluctant to sanction high wages for Owen, who has been plagued by hamstring injuries in the last two years. Pulis has started exploring other avenues, with Jermain Defoe a potential target, but is prepared to wait for as long as it takes for Owen.

Coates has spent the last four seasons investing heavily in the transfer market to enable Pulis to keep Stoke in the Premier League, but this summer has made it clear that those levels of investment will cease.

Pulis and Coates have held several discussions about Owen and the Stoke manager is eager to add him to his playing squad as an "impact player" and to improve on his team's miserable return of 38 goals last season.

Stoke were the lowest scorers in the Premier League and Pulis is convinced that Owen, at full fitness, would make a significant improvement and provide an ideal foil for Peter Crouch.


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