Former Manchester United centre-forward Mark Hughes has revealed that he never wanted to leave the club.
After establishing himself in the United first-team in the mid-1980s, Mark Hughes caught the eye of a number of top European teams and the Red Devils expected to part company with the Welsh forward.
But Hughes has now admitted that he had no interest in leaving Old Trafford in 1986, when Barcelona came calling with a bid of approximately £2 million.
“I was getting a lot of notice, just by virtue of playing for Manchester United. I’d done okay in international games, I’d scored that good goal, a volley against Spain – that was one of my better ones that one,” Hughes said on a recent episode of the UTD Podcast.
“The feeling was that a bid was going to come in, from maybe a foreign club, just because that’s where the money was. In those days, Italy was the big place or Spain, either Real Madrid or Barcelona. I was in between agents or agents were coming out of the woodwork because they could see what was likely to happen.
“I was just trying to play my game. I was quite happy. I was centre-forward for Manchester United, for goodness sake. And I was coming in here week-in week-out to play in front of 40,000.
“I was having a great time, I didn’t particularly want to go anywhere. But I think it got to a point where there was an assumption that well, actually, you want to leave, you’re going to leave, so it’s going to happen.”
Hughes has recalled how his first meeting with Barcelona representatives went and the forward ended up agreeing to a switch to the Camp Nou.
But in the final months of his first spell with United, Hughes held out hope that the deal would fall apart and he could continue his career with the Red Devils.
“Big Ron [Atkinson] was the manager and I think he got to the point where he thought, ‘Well, we may have to cash in because it’s going to happen’,” Hughes continued.
“It got to a point where I’m thinking, ‘Well, it won’t get that far’. I ended up meeting the Vice President of Barcelona and the meeting went on and on and I’m not quite sure, it was in Spanish and French and a little bit of English and it got to a point where at some point I agreed that well, at the end of season, if all things being equal, I would go to Barcelona.
“But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘I hope it doesn’t happen. I don’t really want to go and I’m having a great time here.’”
Hughes spent just one season with Barcelona before a loan spell with Bayern Munich.
In 1988, Hughes returned to United and spent seven successful years with the side that had since been taken over by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hughes went on to score a total of 163 goals for the Red Devils and he will go down as one of the club’s greatest-ever goalscorers.
LOI Arena is the new home for great League of Ireland discussion. Each week Con and Conan will take to the mic to analyse the highs and lows from the Greatest League in the World. The lads are joined by great guests each week who share a passion for all things LOI and Irish Football.
Former Dundalk teammates Robbie Benson and Brian Gatland joined the lads to chat about their clubs contrasting starts to the season, Brian’s cruciate injury and much more.
The podcast will form part of a new membership offering from Pundit Arena that focuses on Irish soccer fans for just €3.99 per month, less than a euro per week.
Fans can sign up or register to listen for free at https://punditarena.com/loiarena.