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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Owen too expensive, says Benitez
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says they kept up their efforts to sign Michael Owen from Real Madrid until the last minute but his price was too high.

When it became clear he could leave, Owen said Liverpool were his first choice but Benitez told the club website he could not justify the cost.

"Madrid only ever talked about 16m. We couldn't spend that much money on a player we sold for 8m," he said.

"We even made phone calls early on Tuesday. In the end it was impossible."

Newcastle ended up paying 17m for the 25-year-old England striker, and Benitez said once it became clear they were willing to pay Madrid's asking price, the club were eager for him to join the Magpies.

"They put a lot of pressure on Michael to go to Newcastle because they wanted the money to sign Sergio Ramos. I hoped Michael would say no and then, maybe, we could do something," he said.

"Whenever I was asked about Owen I had to respect the strikers we have at the club.

"We never planned to sell Djibril Cisse but when Madrid kept on telling us they wanted 16m, it was a problem and we had to look at different possibilities.

"We had clubs interested in Djibril, but we made it clear to them we wanted to keep the player."


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