|Sunday 30th May 2004|
MUNICH STAR WANTS REDS
Owen Hargreaves has revealed his desire to leave Bayern Munich for the Premiership, naming Liverpool and Arsenal as his "dream destinations".
The 23-year-old midfielder says he is "very open to the change" being made as early as this summer, two years before his contract expires, after enduring increasingly strained relations with some of his Bayern team-mates, notably the captain Oliver Kahn.
"After seven years I'm starting to feel that I want to play elsewhere," Hargreaves said in an exclusive interview with the Guardian. "Sometimes you just know when it's time to move on and take a new step. That time might be now or maybe it will be after another season. But I'm very excited about the next few years and thinking where I might end up.
"The Premiership, in particular, is brilliant and the fans are fantastic and just to be there every week would be a dream for me. I'd also be very much closer to my family because it's quite possible that, if I got transferred, my parents might move from Canada and return to England."
Hargreaves candidly discussed the clubs he would prefer to play for. "Liverpool, with a new manager, will be looking to strengthen their squad. With one or two new players they could be a very talented team. The basis is already there with Stevie Gerrard and Michael Owen. That would be a great destination for me, and I think I would fit in really well.
"Arsenal are a wonderful team. I've seen a lot of them this season and they've definitely been the best team in Europe; it's just a shame they went out to Chelsea in the Champions League. I'd love to play for them but I just don't know if they need any new players."
Hargreaves confirmed that he is primarily motivated by playing Champions League football for a Premiership club. Such ambition is understandable from a player who has already won the competition, in 2001, with Bayern.
"Manchester United are in a bit of transition and Chelsea have a wad of money to spend on who they want. If I had carte blanche to choose I would say I'd be a good fit at Liverpool. But I also feel I'd be a very good fit at Arsenal and even at Man United, for that matter. Football is a business and that's something you learn very quickly as a professional."
This time last year Chelsea began an early pursuit of Hargreaves. "They know I speak to the other England players and it came about in that way," he said. "So Chelsea was a definite topic for me to consider. I thought about it very seriously but decided it wasn't the right time. It all happened a little bit too quickly. But this summer might well be the right time to make the move. I'm happy enough here, but I would also like a new challenge."