Manchester United have confirmed the club will not be offering veteran English international striker Michael Owen a new contract. Owen, 32, joined the club on a free transfer from Newcastle United in 2009 and has scored 17 goals in 52 appearances for the Red Devils since then.
Owen, who has also represented Spanish champions Real Madrid (he scored 16 goals in 45 appearances during the 2004/05 season), broke the news on Thursday morning, via Twitter.
"The manager informed me after our testimonial match (for Harry Gregg) on Tuesday that the club would not be offering me a new contract. I have loved every minute of the three years I have spent at such a fantastic club. I would like to thank the players, staff and fans for their support and wish them well for the future. I now plan to have a short holiday during which I will contemplate my next move," the former Liverpool star said on his Twitter page.
According to the report on the club's official Web site, Manchester United placed on record their thanks to the player for his contribution and wished him well for the future. Another report on the site quoted United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as praising his departing striker.
"It is a pleasure to have had Michael at Manchester United. Michael is a consummate professional and was an influential figure in our dressing room. Unfortunately he had no luck with his injury this season. Michael's record of goals per game is exceptional and we wish him all the best for the future," the Scot said.
Meanwhile, an earlier report by The Sun (in February, to be precise) could contain clues as to Owen's next destination. It appears Championship side Brighton were contemplating bringing Owen to the Amex Stadium. The player was still under contract at the time but United were reportedly ready to accept a nominal fee. The problem was that Owen was reluctant to step down leagues.
However, given his lack of options now - unless he considers retirement - it could well be that the former Ballon d'Or winner (2001) will look favourably to joining Gus Poyet's side. Brighton have finished the 2011/12 season in tenth place, with 66 points from 46 games.