It's official: Owen's heading for Real

Michael Owen will definitely leave Liverpool for Real Madrid, it was confirmed today.

The Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez explained he has been powerless to hang on to the England striker, who has been lured to the continent by Real with just a year left on his Anfield contract.

Benitez, who replaced Gerard Houllier as Liverpool boss earlier this summer, said: "When I came here he had one year left on his contract. Real Madrid knew that, and when a big club like them come knocking you cannot control it."

Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira has announced he is to stay at Arsenal.

The Gunners captain has been linked with a move to Real Madrid all summer but today confirmed he will remain with the Premiership champions.

Vieira told his club's official website, "The ties which I have here were too strong for me to break."

Madrid's interest in the French midfielder had reportedly cooled because the asking fee had risen sharply, supposedly up from £22million to £25.5million - plus £3.4million in bonuses.