Stoke City: Potters prepare for clear-out after Michael Owen's arrival
STOKE are preparing to lighten their squad and wage bill after winning Premier League approval to sign England legend Michael Owen.
Danny Higginbotham, Michael Tonge, Diego Arismendi and Mama Sidibe were all left out of the maximum 25-man Premier League squad City named yesterday and will be offered to clubs on loan.
Wilson Palacios is named in the squad, but could also be among those made available after efforts to loan him out on last Friday’s transfer deadline-day fell through.
Owen has been allocated the number 10 shirt which Ricardo Fuller wore last season.
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City faced a nervous wait to see if the Owen deal would be approved by the Premier League because he was signed so close to Tuesday’s 4pm deadline to register the 25-man squad.
However, they were finally given the green light yesterday afternoon by the three-man Premier League board of chief executive Richard Scudamore, chairman Sir Dave Richards and director of football Mike Foster.
Owen has signed a one-year deal, understood to include a basic wage of less than £20,000 a week, but heavily weighted towards appearances and goals.
Stoke’s chief executive Tony Scholes said he was delighted the deal was done in the nick of time.
He said: “I had a number of conversations with Michael Owen’s agent over the weekend and also with Michael on Tuesday.
“We presented them with an offer and, as is often the case with negotiations, it was accepted late in the day.”
Owen becomes City’s seventh signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Jamie Ness, Geoff Cameron, Michael Kightly, Maurice Edu, Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi.
Former Glasgow Rangers midfielder Ness is eligible to play, but hasn’t had to be included in the 25-man squad because he is only 21.
City will be free to allow some players to get games elsewhere once the window for loan deals reopens tomorrow.
Scholes said the club will look to loan out players having enjoyed a successful transfer window.
He said: “The fact we have made seven signings speaks for itself. The backing that the Coates family has again given the club is incredible.
“Now we have to balance things and move some players out as well.
“It’s fair to say we have ended up with more in the squad than is appropriate.”
Owen’s capture gives City plenty of options up front. The 32-year-old began his Stoke career today as he joined the rest of the squad for training.
He is unlikely to be thrown straight into the starting line-up for Stoke’s next match, at home to Manchester City on September 15.
However, the prospect of him reprising his England strike-partnership with Peter Crouch is a mouthwatering one.
Stoke City’s supporters’ club chairman Bryan Shaw said: “It’s got the potential of being an excellent signing because if Michael Owen can stay fit he will score goals.
“I am sure there will be a lot of supporters wearing the ‘Owen Number 10’ shirt.”