The Barcelona Job: Two very different stories

The man who now does his best to sell you crisps versus a very angry manager. Or perhaps, it’s a fight between two very talented strikers, we aren’t sure which one is a better opening line. While the two were very good forwards in their own right, only one of these players shone on the biggest stage of them all.

For both players, it was a chance to show the world what they were made of. Gary Lineker was sold by Everton for around £2.8 million, with his stint on Merseyside a short lived one. However, the striker did net 30 goals in 41 appearances while with Everton, enough, as it turned out, to see Barcelona buy his services.

For Mark Hughes, it was s lightly less prolific season that saw him bought for £2 million by the same club. It was as surprise that Manchester United chose to sell him following his 37 goals across 89 appearances for the club, but he made his way to Spain nonetheless.

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The two were to see markedly different stints with Barcelona, though. Hughes was seen as an all-round disappointment by the fans as he struggled to justify his price tag. With just four goals in 28 appearances, the Welshman’s first season at Barcelona would prove to be his last.

Lineker on the other hand was a huge success at the club. 21 goals in his debut season in Spain saw him become an instant favourite, and that tag was exemplified ten fold as he scored a hat-trick in the 3-2 victory over arch rivals Real Madrid.

Lineker did eventually become surplus to requirements as he was shifted onto the right-wing by Johan Cruyff, but the English-forward scored a total of 42 goals in 103 appearances in La Liga, to go with his Copa Del Rey triumph in 1988 and a European Cup Winner’s Cup win the following year.

But why was Lineker so much more successful at Barcelona than Hughes? Lineker was a very quick striker that was happy to play between the lines of defenders and midfielders, or running in behind the opposition. This made him far better suited to the quicker playing style of the Spanish league.

Hughes on the other hand was, and is still renowned as a hard man of the sport, something that European referees still penalise all too willingly to this day. This meant that Hughes was either giving away fouls too often, or he was not playing his own way; a recipe for disaster.

The fact that Lineker is three years older than Hughes and had two years more experience in senior football will also have had an effect on both men. Ultimately, it was a venture that Hughes should not have taken. For Lineker on the other hand, it was part of the success story that made his career.

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It was an incredibly disappointing move for Hughes then as his potential did not result in success. The Welshman’s physical nature was far better suited to the aggressive style of England, something that is still true to this day, while Lineker’s style was far better suited to the quick, passing way of European football.

With Wales, Hughes went on to score 16 goals in 72 appearances, while Lineker netted 48 in 80 for England. The stats for their respective countries perhaps convey the difference between the two. Both were superbly talented forwards, but only one was able to really reach his potential for club and country.


You wouldn’t have forgot Hughes and Lineker played at the Nou Camp, but there’s no chance you can remember these players…



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