"Some players are worth waiting for - and Owen is one," said Ferguson.

"He was England's best player at the last World Cup. The energy he brings to the centre of our midfield and the European experience he has had with Bayern Munich will be priceless.

"I won't saddle him with comparisons to Bryan Robson, Roy Keane or Eric Cantona because every player is different.

"But what I can say is that, like those eminent predecessors, he will bring stature to his position and give me any number of options in terms of the role he will play."