Monday 18 December 2017

Arsenal taunted by Gary Lineker - 'You nicked wrong scout from Leicester'

Gary Lineker and Arsene Wenger
Gary Lineker and Arsene Wenger

Matt Law

Gary Lineker has taunted Arsenal ahead of their vital Premier League clash against his beloved Leicester City by claiming the Gunners have stolen the wrong scout off the Foxes.

Ben Wrigglesworth is moving from Leicester to Arsenal as the club’s new first-team video scout and has been credited as helping to discover Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante.

But former Leicester striker Lineker insists Arsenal have got the wrong man and believes head of recruitment Steve Walsh is solely responsible for the bargain £400,000 signing of Mahrez from Le Harve two years ago.

Top-of-the-table Leicester travel to third-placed Arsenal on Sunday for a game that could go a long way to deciding the destination of the Premier League title.

“I love how Arsenal nicked the wrong scout,” laughed Lineker. “Steve Walsh is the guy who found these players and bought them in.

“I know he found Mahrez. He was sent to watch someone else and came back with Mahrez. He’s done a brilliant job and that’s been the large key to Leicester’s success. As in all clubs, it’s about the people you bring in and they’ve done it on a relatively small budget compared with the giants.”

Like most pundits and journalists, boyhood Leicester fan Lineker was underwhelmed with the summer appointment of manager Claudio Ranieri, branding it “uninspired”.

But the Match of the Day and BT Sports Champions League presenter is delighted to have been proved wrong and said: “Those of us who were critical or not overly excited by the appointment have, wonderfully, been proved wrong.

“He’s gone with the run the team were already on from the end of last season, although he did tinker because Nigel Pearson had been playing a three or five at the back and Ranieri went to four at the back. But he kept the pace on the counter-attack and he’s clearly got the backing of the players. He’s done a fabulous job.

 “He’s played it beautifully right the way through – keeping everyone’s feet on the ground, very likeable, not tried to play any games.”

Lineker thought he was on safe ground when he threatened to present the first Match of the Day of next season in his pants if Leicester win the title, but admits he is now having to consider his choice of underwear.

“I stupidly said I would present Match of the Day in my pants, yes,” said Lineker. “At that stage, I absolutely, categorically 100 per cent knew they were not going to win the League, but the nation and I are in trouble!

 “Maybe I’ll get a really good deal to wear some really good pants, very large ones, massive, that come right up over my head to stop me blushing. The odds were 5000-1 for Leicester to win the league at the start of the season and now I think they’re 7-4 for me presenting in my pants.”

Lineker’s love for Leicester started in the 1960s and he went on to score 103 goals for the club in 216 appearances, before playing for Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Nagoya Grampus Eight.

“I am a proper boyhood Leicester fan,” said Lineker. “I watched the likes of Peter Shilton and Frank Worthington. I was a season-ticket holder with my dad and granddad from seven or eight years old.

 “I went home and away. I went to the 1969 Cup final and cried all the way home, when I was eight. Those were the first years of going to matches and remember in those days you didn't have the chance to watch football regularly on television, so it was very much a case of going. The first game I ever saw was Leicester getting beat 2-1 by Man United at home.

“They were a decent side in the 60s, a good team, an entertaining side. A little bit like they are now.”

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