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Owen joins Manchester United in shock move

Michael Owen has been confirmed as a Manchester United player. The striker has signed a two-year deal to play at Old Trafford and no transfer free was paid as the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle forward was a free agent. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson happily confirmed the deal saying, "Michael is a world class forward with a proven goalscoring record at the highest level and that has never been in question. Coming to Manchester United with the expectations that we have is something that Michael will relish"

Owen himself was similarly happy, and said: "I had just begun to talk to other Clubs when out of the blue Sir Alex phoned me on Wednesday afternoon, invited me to have breakfast with him next morning during which he told me that he wanted to sign me. I agreed without a moment's thought.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I intend to seize it with both hands.

"I am now looking forward to being a Manchester United player and I am fortunate that I already know so many of the players here. I missed pre season last year and am pleased that I will be starting at Carrington from day one.

"I want to thank Sir Alex for the faith he has shown in me and I give him my assurance that I will repay him with my goals and performances"

The striker spent Friday morning at United's training complex, Carrington, before heading to a south Manchester hospital for more tests.

Owen left the hospital just after five o'clock and was understood to be returning to United's Carrington training ground to complete the formalities of the move.

The England international had been without a club following the expiry of his contract with Newcastle United and it appeared only Stoke City and Hull City were interested in offering him a contract.

But Sir Alex Ferguson has snapped up a player who is fourth in the all-time goalscorers list for his country.

Newspaper reports suggest the contract will be purely incentive based, depending on minutes played and goals scored. Sir Alex tried to sign the player - a boyhood Everton fan - as a teenager but instead he opted, on the advice of his father, to pen a contract with Liverpool where he scored 118 goals in 216 games.

United have been searching for a new forward since the departure of Carlos Tevez at the end of his loan deal. They had been linked with the likes of Karim Benzema and David Villa, but now it seems Owen will be arriving to pep up their striking options.

The 29-year-old suffered an injury-ravaged time at St James' Park but still managed to score 10 goals as the Magpies dropped out of the Premier League.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker will be hoping a move to Old Trafford will push him back into the thoughts of England coach Fabio Capello ahead of next summer's World Cup finals.

In Manchester and among fans, the reaction has been mixed; Red Devils' messageboards have been lighting up with negative comments.

"Not happy. From what I've seen he is nowhere near as good as he was," was one; while another discontented fan lamented: "Owen hasnt been the same for years!"

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