Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he is not interested in signing Michael Owen – an admission which might clear the way for Manchester United to sign the England striker.

Owen’s role at Real looks increasingly peripheral following the arrival of Brazilian strikers Julio Baptista and Robinho. There has been speculation that the former Liverpool man will return to England before the start of the new season with Manchester United and Arsenal believed to be interested in signing him.

However, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has already admitted that he is not in the market for a striker.

“We have not made a bid for Michael Owen. At the moment I am not looking for a striker, but other areas I am looking at.”

But United have told Sir Alex Ferguson he money will be made available.

United chief executive David Gill said: “The money is there for Alex.

“If he identifies a talent that he thinks will improve the squad – and that is the crucial thing – the funds are available.”

Gill denied that the Old Trafford takeover by Malcolm Glazer meant a tightening of the purse strings.

“The Glazers have said that if there is a big player out there who is available, then the money is there to go for him,” said Gill.

“We can still afford a lot of money for top players and at the same time we are also able to develop many of our own.”

Despite scoring 16 goals in his first season at Real following his move from Liverpool, Owen spent many games on the bench. Next season – a World Cup year – he faces the prospect of fighting for a place with Raul, Ronaldo, Robinho and Baptista.