Date: 7th April 2011 at 12:00pm
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Earlier this week Michael Owen expressed his desire to sign a new deal at Old Trafford.

His current deal comes to an end this summer and no new deal has been forthcoming from the club.

Owen currently finds himself fourth choice at Old Trafford and with Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck scheduled to return to the club next season, there are question marks over his future at the club.

After an indifferent start to the season Wayne Rooney’s quality has undoubtedly shone through whilst Dimitar Berbatov remains the club’s and league’s top scorer but his situation is the clearest indicator of how tight it is to secure a place in the starting line up as he has found playing time hard to come by due to the emergence of Javier Hernandez who, in his debut season has been a revelation scoring goals freely.

Chances have been and will continue to be limited for Owen so would remaining at Old Trafford be a good move for either party?

A few weeks ago Sir Alex sang the praises of Danny Welbeck claiming he would be returning from his loan spell next season. The young striker has enjoyed his time with England’s u21 and Sunderland and performed to the extent that he was able to secure an England debut in last month’s exciting encounter with Ghana. His spell away from the club has benefitted him immensely and you can see the change in him as he has become a much better player for it.

Just yesterday quotes attributed to Sir Alex in Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport revealed that Sir Alex was keen to get the young Italian back to Old Trafford and praised him as a natural goalscorer. Macheda’s spell hasn’t been as fruitful as Welbeck’s and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was loaned out to an English club as had been the plan this season but if he isn’t that means we will have 6 strikers as well as younger ones like Josh King, who has been on the periphery of the first team, looking to stake a claim  next season.

Owen is still a quality player, despite modifying his game his predatory instinct remains and can get important goals even if he doesn’t guarantee you 30 games a season. His presence alone is a huge asset to the strikers we have as he can teach them a thing or two about getting goals but I feel that there is no place for sympathy here. I, as well as many others, would much rather see the likes of Danny Welbeck continue to learn his game at Old Trafford than spend another season out on loan even if it means it is at the expense of Michael Owen.

Owen too owes it to himself to be playing more. I’m not sure whether he feels at this stage of his career he can capture a starting place in the team but if he feels he can get an extension to his deal whilst operating in his current capacity then he is clearly good enough to be getting constant playing time at a lesser club. A step down will guarantee him more minutes on field, there is no shame in stepping down especially at his age and with his injury record.

There has been talk of loss of ambition but who wouldn’t want to play for the best team in the world under the best manager? Despite this I don’t doubt that his hunger to play has diminished and judging by his recent comments on Twitter he is hungry to play and score rather than just sit on the bench collecting wages.

Owen’s future still hangs in the balance, the season is not over and as I discussed with a friend the other day he may still have one major contribution to make to Manchester United but beyond this season I personally can’t see him being kept on. At 31,  turning 32 next season, his age and the youth we have emerging works against him.

Whilst injuries have hampered his time here there are still a number of highlights from what was an year experiment that can be deemed neither a success or a failure but an experiment that has essential run it’s course .