Real Madrid director of football Arrigo Sacchi has admitted that he was sorry to see Michael Owen leave the club after just 12 months to join Newcastle United.

“We are upset because we have lost a great professional, a top-class player and someone who was always very positive,” Sacchi told Real Madrid’s website.

“Real Madrid were happy with him and we would like to thank him for everything he has done here and wish him the very best in the future.

“He asked us if he could leave because it is a World Cup year and he wasn’t going to play here regularly. We didn’t want to loan him out and it was only when a big offer was made did that we accepted the idea of selling him.

“We’ve certainly lost something with his departure, but you can’t keep a player who wants to leave and especially one has got such clear reasons. He is one of the best strikers in the world and here we have Robinho, Guti, Raul and Ronaldo and he wasn’t going to play much.”

Real Madrid defender Ivan Helguera said he was also disappointed to see Owen leave.

“He was a great team mate, a very good person and an excellent player,” the centre-back told a news conference.

“It’s a shame that he’s gone because we thought a lot of him. He did a lot for Real Madrid despite the fact that he was given few minutes on the pitch and last season he made a big difference to the team.”