Whelan reveals Wigan's audacious move for Owen

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The Independent Football

Whelan said yesterday that he received a telephone call from the former Liverpool striker informing him of his decision to join Newcastle United from Real Madrid for a fee believed to be around £17m.

"Our move was not a publicity stunt," said Whelan. "I was even prepared to put a clause in that would allow him to move at Christmas. Michael rang to say thanks for trying to sign him. He joined Newcastle but we did everything in our power to try to bring him to the JJB.

"Ringing up was a wonderful gesture. He made time to speak to me once he made it clear he was going to Tyneside."

Tottenham also missed out on an ambitious target before the transfer window closed. The Deportivo La Coruña president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro said he had turned down a bid of £6.13mfor the Spain striker Diego Tristan.

Deportivo, having sold Albert Luque to Newcastle for £9.5m, resisted the advances of the Premiership club.

"We rejected the offer of a total of €9m from Tottenham for Diego Tristan, because we believe Diego can recover and we have a lot of trust in him," said Lendoiro.

Tristan, 29, struggled for form last season and scored only eight goals in 24 appearances for the Spanish club.

The Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing will not play for at least three months after undergoing knee surgery. The 21-year-old England international had an operation to repair cartilage in his right knee.

"The operation went very well and the surgeon was very happy with the repair," said the Middlesbrough coach Steve Round. "But it's obviously a major blow, both for Stewart and the team, that he will be out for so long.

"I know Stewart would love to play in next year's World Cup and there's still every chance for him to do so. The squad for the finals won't be named until the end of the season. Stewart should be back and flying long before then."

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