Newcastle move to keep Owen

Newcastle United have offered am improved three-year contract to Michael Owen in a bid to keep the England striker at St James Park.

There had been growing speculation that the 28-year-old former Liverpool and Real Madrid goal-scorer could leave Tyneside on a free transfer at the end of the season.

A club spokesman said: "Newcastle United can confirm that captain Michael Owen has been offered an extended and improved three-year contract.

"The proposed terms of the new deal include an increased salary for Michael and demonstrate the club's commitment to keeping him," the statement went on. "The club hopes that this enhanced contract offer will keep him at St James' Park."

Reports during the week suggested that Keegan had been told at a meeting with owner Mike Ashley that Owen would be offered only a one-year extension and a reduced salary.

However, the latest offer - formal details of which it is understood are yet to reach Owen's representatives - represent an improvement on his current salary.