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By ESPN Staff

Emre leaves Newcastle for Fenerbahce

ISTANBUL, July 23 (Reuters) - Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu signed for Fenerbahce from Newcastle United on Wednesday in a four-year deal, the club announced at a signing ceremony.

The 27-year-old Emre, the captain of the Turkey national side which reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008, launched his career with Fenerbahce's Istanbul rivals Galatasaray.

He had a four-year spell at Inter Milan before joining Newcastle in 2005.

'For many years I have tried to represent Turkish football in Europe. I am very happy to have come to Fenerbahce and I hope I will serve this club for years,' Emre told reporters.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. Meanwhile, Michael Owen will retain the captain's armband no matter who Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan signs during the remainder of the transfer window.

The Magpies boss was so impressed with the way the 28-year-old England international led his troops last season that he will have no qualms about asking him to continue this time around.

Keegan appointed Owen as skipper on his return to St James' Park in January, and saw the former Real Madrid star lead by example as his side dragged themselves out of an alarming slump to finish in 12th place.

Such was the £17million man's impact after two injury-wrecked seasons on Tyneside that his manager urged owner Mike Ashley to open negotiations over a new contract - his current deal expires at the end of the new campaign - as a matter of urgency.

Owen missed Saturday's first pre-season friendly at Hartlepool with sore calves and is unlikely to feature at Doncaster this weekend.

However, he will lead his side out at Old Trafford on August 17 when the Magpies kick off their season against champions Manchester United.

Keegan said: 'Yes, Michael's my captain. He has really impressed everybody. He leads by example, and that's a good way to lead. He says: 'I'll work hard, so you work hard'.

'He's not scared to give his opinion when he's right, and he's not scared to say what he feels.

'He's a tremendous professional and he trains properly every day.'

A fractured metatarsal and the anterior cruciate ligament he suffered at the 2006 World Cup finals limited Owen to just 14 appearances for his club in his first two seasons.

Despite hernia surgery and a knee problem, he managed 28 starts last season, including each of the last 20 games - a run which began with what proved to be Sam Allardyce's last match in charge, a 0-0 FA Cup third-round draw at Stoke.

Owen finished as the club's top scorer for the season with 13, eight of them coming in the space of 11 games as Newcastle staged their fightback.

But it was the contribution he made to Keegan's three-man frontline alongside Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins which finally endeared him to fans who had previously seen nowhere near enough of him.

The manager asked a man who has spent his career playing as an out-and-out marksman to adopt a slightly deeper role, and both were rewarded handsomely.

Owen may have to wait until the club head off to play in the Mallorca Summer Cup next week for his return to action with Keegan refusing to take any risks.

Viduka will miss the start of the new season despite making an excellent recovery from his troublesome Achilles problem, while Steve Harper and Habib Beye also sat out at Hartlepool with minor problems.

Keegan said: 'Habib Beye is a very fit player but he just felt a little twinge on Thursday and we just decided to pull him out until Monday.

'It was the same with Michael Owen. He felt a little twinge and we pulled him out about eight or nine days ago. There's just no point risking them at this stage.'

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