Football: One Michael Owen equals 857 gold bars

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The Independent Online
THE FULL cost of replacing Michael Owen was reported yesterday to be pounds 60m. Liverpool say that is the figure they want to insure him for, against loss to injury, accident or illness over the next six years of his contract.

The estimation is said to have frightened off insurance companies who are not prepared to take on the risk on the 18-year-old forward, despite a six-figure premium. That reluctance could force Liverpool to half their valuation.

The sum is six times last season's cover against a career-ending injury for the striker, whose profile has soared since his performances for England in the World Cup finals, is higher than the cover for any Premiership player and even eclipses the pounds 50m cover of Ronaldo.

It is based on Owen's transfer value - estimated at around pounds 30m - and his crowd-pulling power as well as his impact on sales of club shirts and other souvenirs.

The latest estimation of Owen's worth leaves other entertainers well behind. Michael Flatley has insured his legs for pounds 25m, Bruce Springsteen insured his voice for pounds 3.5m, while the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richard has insured the third finger of his left hand for pounds 1m.

Even at that pounds 60m Owen, is still worth only half a Boeing 747, but you could buy 387 Rolls Royces or, if you wanted more tangible proof of wealth, 857 12kg gold bars at pounds 70,000.

Away from the mathematics of modern-day football Owen has admitted he is already getting "fed up" with the pressures of being a World Cup sensation.

"I know it will be like this now for probably the next 10 years, maybe longer," he said as Liverpool arrived in Dublin yesterday for this weekend's Carlsberg Tournament. "It's going to be like this for the rest of my career and there's nothing I can do about it.

"I must admit that I am already getting fed up with it all, but it's the price you have to pay for the position you are in."