Home>News Center>Sports

Benchwarmer Owen could be off to Lyon
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-18 06:00

PARIS: Olympique Lyon will try to land a world-class player once the sale of Michael Essien to Chelsea goes through and they hope it will be Michael Owen.

The French champions will certainly have plenty of cash, with Chelsea set to pay 38 million euros (US$47.06 million) for Ghana midfielder Essien, a record for a transfer involving a Ligue 1 player. The transfer is expected to go ahead after a medical thought to be later on Tuesday.

The transfer sum would represent one third of Lyon's budget and the entire budget of some Ligue 1 clubs.

"It's true that it's a lot of money," said former France striker Bernard Lacombe, who is Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas's adviser for sporting matters.

"We are ambitious and we will now try to make the right choices. There are a few players we're interested in. Maybe we should get a real top man."

That could be England striker Owen, who is expected to leave Real Madrid. The England striker has excellent relations with Lyon coach Gerard Houllier, who was his manager at Liverpool.

"I get on well with Michael and I still have contact with him and his family," said Houllier.

Aulas also expressed interest in Owen: "If you ask me whether I would be happy to welcome Michael Owen to the club, the answer is yes, of course I would," he said.

The Lyon president, however, knows that there is some fierce competition, notably from several Premier League sides, and that the image of Ligue 1, one of the least attractive leagues in Europe, is a handicap.

However, not only do Lyon want to make history with an unprecedented fifth successive Ligue 1 title this season, they also want to make an impact in Europe.

In that respect, Essien's departure is bad news.

"One thing is for sure, a club that has him (Essien) will have more chances to win the Champions League than a club that does not," said Aulas.

Lyon have already purchased Benoit Pedretti and Norway striker John Carew, who has scored three goals in as many league games.

They are interested in Japan-based Brazilan Fabinho, a defensive midfielder who could replace Essien.

But what they really need is a top striker, and Owen would be perfect.

First of all, they must make sure that Brazil midfielder Juninho, the club's most influential player beside Essien, stays at the club. Negotiations are under way and the player has said he does not know whether he will extend his contract or leave.

"We will do everything we can to keep him," said Aulas. "We cannot afford to lose a second highly-valued player."

Whatever happens next, Aulas and his players realise they are losing a special player whose role was decisive in Lyon winning the last two French titles.

"Lyon existed before Michael Essien and will exist after him," said defender Anthony Reveillere.

(China Daily 08/18/2005 page15)

Bao Chunlai advances at IBF Badminton worlds
Man U beat Everton 2-0
IAAF World Athletics Championships
  Today's Top News     Top Sports News

Singapore: China-India ties to anchor new Asia century



China, Russia start joint military exercises



US, China said close to broad textile deal



Foreign banks to buy Guangdong bank shares



Mainland scrambles to help Taiwan airlines



US in touch with N. Korea ahead of nuke talks


  World Cup Qualifier: Japan on top; Korea lose
  Denmark send England to biggest loss in 25 years
  Brazil draw with Croatia in friendly
  Du Wei pleads with Shenhua to lower price
  With Finley on market, Sprewell must wait
  Gerrard wants Owen back; Beckham hopes he stay
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Gerrard wants Owen back; Beckham hopes he stay
Manchester United are not interested in Owen
Real signings leave Owen in limbo
Beckham expects Owen to stay at Real Madrid
Report: Ferguson sets eyes on Owen
Owen could be swapped for Man United's Ronaldo
Owen's hat trick lifts England over Colombia