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Michael Owen's whole Liverpool future will depend on whether he plays in the club's Champions League crunch qualifier in Graz tomorrow.
It is believed that Liverpool are in the middle of a delicate piece of brinkmanship over the England striker's new contract.
Barcelona are believed to be interested in Owen but are very much aware that if he plays against the Austrian double winners Graz AK his transfer valuation will slump because he will be cup-tied in all UEFA tournaments this season.
Owen has been cagey in recent days about his new contract after 15 months of negotiation.
Last week he implied he was on the brink of signing a new three-year contact that would have given manager Rafael Benitez a major boost as he approached the new Barclays Premiership season.
But those talks appear to have hit a snag with the clear implication that Owen is being pressured into signing before the Champions League starts, and that is something his advisors will not allow to happen, with initially Barcelona and possibly also Real Madrid showing interest.
Originally posted by TRD
Real, who are said to be willing to pay 10m and throw in Fernando Morientes or Samuel Eto'o, refused to comment.
Michael Owen expressed his joy after helping Real Madrid to an opening day 1-0 win over Mallorca.
The former Liverpool star came off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Raul and laid on the only goal of the game for Ronaldo.