Gudjohnsen: Real Madrid showed interest in me before Barcelona move

Eidur Gudjohnsen has told FourFourTwo that Real Madrid had shown interested in his services before he joined Barcelona.

The 37-year-old signed for the Catalan giants in 2006 after six successful years with Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles and one League Cup.

La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League glory followed for the popular forward, who went on to net 18 times for Barcelona in 112 appearances.

However, Gudjohnsen has revealed that he could have been plying his trade for the Catalan’s Clasico rivals Real Madrid, had Los Blancos not been busy electing a new president in Ramon Calderon and a new coach in Fabio Capello.

The first interest I heard from Spain was Real Madrid. But the club were going through their elections and didn’t have a coach, so I wondered how concrete the interest was. When Barcelona came in with everything in place, having just won the Champions League, I thought: ‘Let’s get this done – where do I sign?’

“From what I was told at the time, they were at least interested,” he says in the March 2016 issue of FourFourTwo.

“The first interest I heard from Spain was Real Madrid. But the club were going through their elections and didn’t have a coach, so I wondered how concrete the interest was. I had no idea then how things worked in Spain.

“When Barcelona came in with everything in place, having just won the Champions League, I thought: ‘Let’s get this done – where do I sign?’ I’d heard whispers about Barcelona for a year, ever since we [Chelsea] had knocked them out of Europe.”

Gudjohnsen arrived at Barcelona just another Nordic striker was leaving; Henrik Larsson ending a two-year stint in Spain by helping the Catalans claim a La Liga and Champions League double. However, his replacement insists he felt no pressure filling the shoes of the iconic Swedish striker, as playing for one of the world’s biggest football clubs provided a big enough challenge in itself.

I’d come off the bench and score the winner, but speak to the people in Barcelona and it’s like Henrik Larsson came off the bench and scored the winner in every match. That’s how they remember him, and I couldn’t get away from that comparison

“I didn’t realise at the time that I was supposed to be replacing someone,” he says. “Then I realised we were both from Nordic countries and wore the same shirt number.

“I’d come off the bench and score the winner, but speak to the people in Barcelona and it’s like Henrik Larsson came off the bench and scored the winner in every match. That’s how they remember him, and I couldn’t get away from that comparison.

“Still, I didn’t feel pressure in replacing him – joining Barcelona was pressure enough.

"Our Chelsea training was at a high level but they took it up another few notches. No matter how hard you drilled a pass to a player, their touch was perfect. If you were on the side without the ball, you couldn’t get it back.”

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Read the full One-on-One interview with Eidur Gudjohnsen in the March 2016 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Pep Guardiola goes under the microscope as we reveal what makes the world’s most innovative manager different from the rest, we go behind the scenes with Borussia Dortmund during their recent winter break and chat to Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Plus there’s the English league that nobody wants to win, a look back at the maddest season ever and exclusive interviews with Samuel Eto’o and Hulk. Subscribe!