Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes his club could still sign Michael Owen even though Liverpool are set to join the race for the former England striker.
Pulis has been keen to sign Owen since he was released by Manchester United at the end of last season, but has so far been unable to agree a deal with the 32-year-old.
Pulis wants to sign Owen on a pay-as-you-play contract, but the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle star Owen wants a deal with guaranteed wages and has so far refused to commit to Stoke as he waits for other offers.
With Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hinting he will consider a move for Owen and Sunderland and Aston Villa also interested, Stoke may have missed their chance.
Writing on Twitter over the weekend, Owen said: "Lots of you asking about my next club. Genuinely don't know yet. Spoken to a few clubs. I'd expect something to happen early next week.
"Obviously can't tell you who I'm in talks with yet. I have an idea where I will go but you never know who else could enter the fray!"
But Pulis remains optimistic and he told The Sentinel: "I would love to sign Michael.
"If we can do it, we will do it, and do it on the basis that we did with Jonathan Woodgate and players like that.
"If he's in the team he will get paid, and if he isn't he won't get paid so much."
Owen, who scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England, endured a disappointing three-year spell with United and he spent much of the time on the bench or battling injuries.