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Owen takes Newcastle option

Michael Owen has agreed to leave Real Madrid CF for Newcastle United FC, where he will sign a four-year contract for a record €23.5m fee.

Shearer factor
The 25-year-old had slipped down the pecking order at the Santiago Bernabéu following the arrival of Brazilian duo Robinho and Julio Baptista, and flew to England yesterday for talks with Newcastle and Liverpool FC. His old club were thought to be leading the chase for Owen, who instead chose to link up with his former England strike partner Alan Shearer. Ironically, Owen's €23.5m switch to Tyneside eclipses the €22m club-record fee Newcastle paid Blackburn Rovers FC for Shearer in 1996.

'Proudest moment'
"Bringing Michael to St James' Park will rank alongside the signing of Alan Shearer as my proudest moment at Newcastle United," said chairman Freddy Shepherd. "Newcastle fans love centre-forwards and Michael is a fantastic goalscorer. He's someone we would love to build the team around and we hope he can help us bring success to this club."