Gary Lineker: I came close to joining Manchester United over Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur Logo 2

Gary Lineker has opened a can of worms by revealing how close he came to joining Manchester United over Tottenham Hotspur in 1989.

When Gary Lineker's three-year spell at Barcelona came to an end, the former Leicester and Everton star returned to England with his former manager from the La Liga club Terry Venables at Tottenham Hotspur.

At Barcelona, Lineker scored 52 goals in 138 appearances and lifted both the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners' Cup. The transfer to White Hart Lane brought more success to the England international, who scored a further 80 goals and won the FA Cup in 1991.

Due to financial restraints, the BBC Match of the Day presenter could have been plying his footballing trade at Old Trafford. His agent held talks with Manchester United manager of the time Sir Alex Ferguson, who was keen on adding Lineker to his squad. 

“I was quite open-minded about my next move," Lineker told Four Four Two magazine.

"It looked like I was going to Fiorentina for a while, but then Sven-Goran Eriksson left and so did Roberto Baggio, so that option went away.

“Then Terry Venables came along and did a deal with Barcelona very quickly. Right at the 11th hour it suddenly appeared that Spurs might not be able to do the deal, financially. That’s when my agent spoke with Alex Ferguson.

“It was close to being done, but then Tottenham came back and said they could do it. You have to remember that the Manchester United of 1989 weren’t the Manchester United of four or five years later.”

Lineker has a point about Manchester United being a different club in the 80s. They didn't start winning league titles under Ferguson until the early 1990s. The first came in 1992-93 and United went on to win a total of five in that decade alone.

The 80s was very much an era for Liverpool - who won six league titles - so if they had come in for Lineker, maybe he would have been tempted, but instead Spurs got their man.

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch