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Owen warns he may quit Liverpool

London: Michael Owen hinted for the first time on Wednesday that he may move to a club abroad if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League.

The England striker has 18 months left on his current contract at Anfield and has given no indication that he intends to extend his stay. “It is impossible to say about my future at Liverpool,” Owen said.

“If they are winning the league every year, there will not be any decision to make about playing abroad. There is no problem now and, in an ideal situation, Liverpool will do really well this season and challenge for the league.

“But I really need to be playing in the Champions League and that is something we have to remedy.

“I don’t want to be just a normal professional. I aim to reach the top and to do that you’ve got to play against the best teams in the world.”

Liverpool lost out to Chelsea in the battle for Champions League qualification on the final day of last season.

New Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard signed a new contract on Tuesday which ties him to the club until 2007 and Anfield manager Gerard Houllier has repeatedly insisted that Owen would also be staying.

Owen, 23, the former European Player of the Year, told the Shoot magazine he would have to think long and hard before deciding to leave the club where he started his career.

“I’ve moved into a new house, I’ve just become a father, and my family are close by. I’ve lived here all my life, and you don’t just jump up and go.”

Real Madrid and newly-rich Chelsea are said to be interested in signing Owen. If contract talks make no progress, Liverpool would be faced with either selling their biggest asset early or see him leave for nothing in the summer of 2005.

Liverpool’s 1-2 defeat to Manchester United last weekend left them eighth in the Premiership, 13 points behind leaders Arsenal and four points off fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying spot.

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