Spanish power Real Madrid acquired English striker Michael Owen from Liverpool yesterday, teaming him with David Beckham and adding further dazzle to one of the most glamorous clubs in world soccer.

After arriving in the Spanish capital, Owen was driven to a clinic for a physical, a formality before signing. The 24-year-old star is expected to be presented as a Real Madrid player today, the club said. Owen is expected to return home for England's exhibition game next week against Ukraine.

A week after he said he was "closer than ever" to signing a new contract with Liverpool, Owen will now play in the Spanish league in a deal reported by the British media at about $18 million.

The transfer, announced on Madrid's Web site, came hours after Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira said he was staying with his London club, ending more than a month of speculation that the French midfielder was also headed to Real Madrid.

Owen joins a team that finished fourth in its league last season despite a lineup featuring Beckham, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo. Real Madrid is getting Owen for a relative bargain after paying Manchester United $41 million last year for Beckham.

Owen, one of the fastest players in the Premier League, scored 158 goals in 297 games for Liverpool and has appeared in two World Cups and two European championships for England.

Liverpool left Owen on the bench for Tuesday's European Champions League third-round, first-leg qualifier against Austria's Grazer AK, a game the English club won, 2-0.

If Owen had played, he would not have been allowed to play for any other club in European competition this season and would have lowered his transfer value.

-- From News Services