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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Benitez defends Owen sale
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez
Don't lose the player or don't lose the money
Liverpool boss
Rafael Benitez
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has vigorously defended the club's decision to sell striker Michael Owen to Real Madrid for 8m.

Benitez said: "The problem is that Real Madrid already had three very good strikers, so they thought they could always sign Michael in January.

"They were not in a hurry. So the problem was that we could have lost the player and the money.

"I arrived and the club said they had been waiting a year for Owen to sign."

Benitez said it was important that Liverpool received something for Owen, rather than allow him to move on a free transfer next summer when his contract expired.

"Don't lose the player or don't lose the money," he added. "You have to have something. I remember Steve McManaman."

McManaman, now at Manchester City, left Liverpool to join Real Madrid on a Bosman free transfer in 1999.

Benitez continued: "People talk a lot about Michael but the problem is that he is not here any more.

"So it is better to talk about the future. The future of Liverpool Football Club is without Michael Owen."

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