Gary Lineker has never been one to hold back his opinions, his work on the BBC covering soccer and his support of the People’s Vote campaign group aimed against Brexit, has put the former England and Barcelona striker at the forefront of major news around the world.
After the death of Diego Maradona, his admiration for “El Diego” went viral all around the world after he spoke so passionately about sharing the field with Maradona in a friendly match in the 80’s. Now Lineker has taken on the role as an ambassador to LaLiga in Spain and spoke to leading media outlet Marca and shared his thoughts on his new role, Messi and Ronaldo, Maradona, and the age-old question, which league is better: the Premier League or LaLiga.
Gary Lineker also took the time to chat about the current issues facing his old club Barcelona, and his tweet where he defended under fire coach Ronald Koeman. Here are some interesting quotes from Gary Lineker’s interview with Marca.
On which league is better the Premier League or LaLiga
Lineker left no room for debate as to which league, he thinks is better, “Three or four years ago, I think Spain was ahead of England. LaLiga was on top during those 10 years of [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo's reign, dominating the Champions League and the Europa League with Sevilla, Atletico... The Spanish teams were winning almost everything, but all leagues have dips and perhaps this one won't last long for LaLiga, if you look at the number of good young players there are in Spain. Pedri, for example - what a fantastic player! His consistency has surprised me for one so young. Or Ansu Fati, fantastic as well. I hope they don't get burnt out. I've seen some brilliant players, like [Michael] Owen or Ronaldo, who played so much when they were young that they struggled with injuries later on. I hope that won't be the case with Pedri.”
On his views of the middle tier teams of both leagues: “That's a difficult question to answer, unless they play against each other. The real difference is in the style. Although there are lots of foreign players in England, the British style still prevails, frenzied, relentless... Some foreign coaches have slowed the pace down, which is a positive in my opinion, but it's still a British style in general. LaLiga is more technical.”
On Messi and Maradona as compared to Cristiano Ronaldo
“(Messi and Maradona) gave us happiness. There were other greats, like the two Ronaldos, for example, but I consider them more as tremendous goal scorers. Diego and Leo did, and do, in each game, two or three things that neither I nor almost anyone did in an entire career. They play a different sport. I also love Cristiano. I respect him a lot, he is great too... but my honest football opinion is that there is no comparison as to who is the best. Because of the things that Leo does. That said, it even hurts me to compare them, because they are both massive.”
Being an ambassador for LaLiga
“I'm proud that LaLiga has chosen me, it's an honor. Great young players are coming to LaLiga right now and that's important. Although Barcelona are going through a big financial crisis at the moment, they and Real Madrid are the two biggest global brands in this sport.”
On his defending Ronald Koeman at Barcelona
“I don't know [laughs]. I do think it's a very difficult job, he arrived at Barcelona's worst period for any coach. I watch all the team's games. I consider them my second club, after Leicester. I always watch them. And in the last few years I'd been thinking: what would be of this team if Leo isn't there one day? We're seeing the answer now.”