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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Exasperated Owen pledges future to Newcastle

Michael Owen has pledged his future to Newcastle, rubbishing rumours he has an 'agenda' against the club.

The England striker has been linked with the St James' Park exit almost from the moment he joined the Magpies two years ago.

He admitted he has a release clause in his contract, believed to be worth £11million, but insists he has no intention of exercising it.

The former Liverpool favourite told the News of the World: 'I've only been at Newcastle two years and the speculation's been unbelievable. At the end of every season, people were asking 'Is Michael Owen going to stay or not?'

'I live up there and and my kids have been to school up there for two years. There is this perception that I divide my life between living in the north west and Newcastle.

'Well, I'm up there Monday through until Saturday. If we get a Sunday off, I'll sometimes fly out after the game and spend the day with my parents and family.

'Then I'll fly back up on Monday and spend the rest of the week there. Even my team-mates say `Are you up here today?' and I say `Yes, like I am every day'.

'Since I've been at Newcastle, people have been thinking I'll leave. A lot think there's an agenda but there's not.

'There was a release clause in my contract that no one was supposed to be privy to but if people go and mention that I can't help it.'

Despite being only 27, Owen admits he is already planning for his retirement by opening his own stables in Cheshire.

He said: 'You get older, you go a bit grey and get a bit slower. Once we start getting closer to 30 and into our early thirties, we are not supermen.

'We are normal people. It happened to Alan Shearer and it will happen to me.

'But I'm only 27 and still in my prime. I feel quick and strong. I probably have had to modify my game. When I was a whipper-snapper I was sprinting down the channels, beating hundreds of players and crossing balls in.

'I was creating as many as I was scoring when I was a kid. Obviously, I've had to adapt my game because I've lost a yard of pace from all those hamstring injuries.

'When I was 17-18, I was a greyhound and it would be hard to get as quick as that again. I play more in the penalty box than I used to but I know where the ball's going to drop better than most.'