But with Owen's get-out clause due to be re-activated at the end of the season he could snatch his man for about half that fee.
The get-out clause went into suspension on August 31, but becomes active again when the summer transfer window opens on July 1 next year.
Sources close to the club claim that the value of the man for whom Newcastle paid £17m in August 2005 will be written down to about £6m next summer.
The source said: "The get-out clause that Michael Owen demanded when he signed for Newcastle will become active again next summer. Each year his value on the books is reduced and by next summer it will be in the region of £5-6m.
"That means that Manchester City or any other club can come in and trigger his release by matching that figure. Newcastle are powerless to stop him moving on.
"Suggestions that he could fetch £15m are fanciful, given he hasn't yet proved his long-term fitness. When he was available for £9m this summer no one came in for him.
"Manchester City wouldn't be his ideal choice, but none of the big four was interested in him this year.
"Newcastle would probably be wise to sell him in January if they could because they would obviously land a bigger fee. In any case they dare not let him get into the final year of his deal without signing a new one because he could then leave for nothing on June 30, 2009."