Gary Lineker: Premier League still unable to attract leading lights

Gary Lineker believes the Premier League still does not attract the best players in the world despite the bumper new television deal.

Former England striker Lineker spent three successful years at Barcelona and believes both his former club and Real Madrid are the two teams the world’s genuine superstars want to play for.

The latest Premier League television deal was worth €7.084bn for domestic British rights alone but Lineker is adamant English sides struggle to attract the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Gareth Bale is the only British or Irish player plying his trade at the top level abroad and Lineker says he would like to see that change.

But he also says the wages available in the Premier League stop some of the top British and Irish talent from leaving the UK – which could help the national sides.

“Gareth Bale obviously wanted to play for Real Madrid, and they and Barcelona are where the huge stars want to go,” said Lineker.

“Despite all the money in the Premier League we still don’t attract the world’s greatest players.

“I expect that might change at some point but not yet.

“I think it would help our players to go and experience playing a different kind of football abroad but you have to be the type of player to relish that challenge.

“There were quite a few (playing abroad) in my day. In those days there were a couple of reasons why you would go.

“The first was to play in a great club with different cultures and have different experiences abroad. The other was financially.

“The financial aspect has gone away as nowadays you can earn as much in the Premier League as in one of the big teams in Spain, Italy or wherever. Perhaps the temptation in that extent has dissipated so now it is personal ambition.”

BT Sport presenter and pundits Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand, Steven McManaman, Owen Hargreaves and Howard Webb were speaking at the launch of BT Sport’s UEFA Champions League coverage for the 2015/16 season in London. BT Sport is only available to Irish viewers through the Setanta Sports Pack. The Setanta Sports Pack will broadcast live coverage of all UEFA Champions League matches this season along with being the only place to see Liverpool, Celtic and Spurs in Thursday night’s Europa League. To subscribe visit


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