Reds will be hit most by Suarez's suspension: Owen

Reds will be hit most by Suarez's suspension: Owen
Michael Owen with some of the youths who participated in the penalty shoot-out simulator challenge at Wisma Atria yesterday.

His actions have cast a huge shadow over an otherwise colourful World Cup Finals characterised by enterprising, attacking football.

But the event will not be the biggest loser in the fall-out from Luis Suarez's bite on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, according to former England striker Michael Owen.

Instead, he believes it will be his former club, Liverpool.

"I feel sorry for them because they've done nothing wrong and are going to get hit the hardest," the 34-year-old said yesterday in an interview with The Sunday Times.

"They're losing not only one of their best players but also financially, because Luis was going to be a key factor in them maybe winning the English Premier League title next season."

But, even as Liverpool agonise over the effects of Suarez's four-month ban from all football-related activities, a suspension that will keep him out of their first nine league matches, Owen insists that the enigmatic Uruguayan's future remains at Anfield.

This, despite reported interest from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"You might want to sell him because he's not going to be available for a large part of the season," acknowledged Owen, who scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for the Reds between 1997 and 2004.

"But, from a playing point of view, certainly not. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are probably the two best players in the world but, for me, Suarez is next in line.

"You simply don't get such players at your club regularly, so, when you've got them, you've got to try and keep them."

In Singapore this weekend as part of Wisma Atria's Goal All The Way campaign, Owen yesterday met fans and participated in a penalty shoot-out simulator challenge together with nine youths selected by the Community Chest.

He remains as fresh-faced as the 18-year-old who announced his arrival on the international stage with a stunning individual effort for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup Finals.

That round-of-16 tie ended in penalty heartbreak for the Three Lions but, 16 years on, Owen is backing Messi and Co to capture a third world crown.

"I fancied Argentina before the tournament and I still think they'll win it," he said. "They've got so many world-class players, particularly in attacking positions, that I can see them scoring lots of goals."

As one of only 12 players to have played for both Liverpool and Manchester United, the father of four has also been casting a glance at the summer transfer activity at Old Trafford.

Midfielder Ander Herrera has arrived from Athletic Bilbao on a £28.8 million (S$61.3 million) deal but it is Luke Shaw's £31.5 million switch from Southampton that has really caught Owen's eye.

"It's a lot of money for a left-back but he's got so many years ahead of him," he said of the 18-year-old England international.

"As long as he continues to play like he did for Southampton, he's going to be in the United first teams for maybe 15 years."

Owen believes United are far from done in their bid to bounce back after last season's seventh-place finish. "They've got a lot of money to spend and a new manager, so I think they're going to make a big impression on the transfer market," he said.

"It's safe to say that they won't come in seventh again. I definitely expect them to be in the top four."


This article was first published on June 29, 2014.
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