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After years in the wilderness, England's top clubs are poised to enter a new golden era of footballing success in Europe. That's what Gary Lineker thinks at least.

There was plenty to take from a 30 minute chat with the former Leicester striker, but it was the topic of Champions League football that raised the most eyebrows.

The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. Swedish supporters, their faces painted in the colors of the national flag, cheer as they wait for the start of the Euro 2016 Group E soccer match between Italy and Sweden at the Stadium municipal in Toulouse, France, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. Swedish supporters, their faces painted in the colors of the national flag, cheer as they wait for the start of the Euro 2016 Group E soccer match between Italy and Sweden at the Stadium municipal in Toulouse, France, Friday, June 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Portugal supporters before the UEFA Euro 2016, semi-final match at the Stade de Lyon, Lyon. PA
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - French soccer team fans watch their team play against the Switzerland team as they watch on the screen setup at the Word Cup FIFA Fan Fest during on Copacabana beach June 20, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Italy lost 1-0. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world: France supporter arrives for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Germany and France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on July 7, 2016.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world: An Australia fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. A French supporter is seen prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group A match between France and Romania at Stade de France on June 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
CUIABA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Colombia fans pose for a photo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Japan and Colombia at Arena Pantanal on June 24, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - at Arena Fonte Nova on June 16, 2014 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - As Euro 2016 fever spreads across the continent we cast an eye over the world of colour, passion and pride, the joy and the heartbreak that the beautiful game stirs across the globe
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - A woman takes selfie in front of Cristiano Ronaldo graffiti ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 near Hotel de Ville on June 9, 2016 in Paris, France.
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 12: An Ukraine fan is seen prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Germany and Ukraine at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 12, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
An Ukraine fan is seen prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Germany and Ukraine at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 12, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
A Portugal supporter cheers prior to the Euro 2016 group F football match between Portugal and Austria at the Parc des Princes in Paris on June 18, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - France supporters kiss prior to the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Germany and France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on July 7, 2016.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Portugal supporter dances in the stands before the group G World Cup soccer match between the United States and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Fans of the Colombia team
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - A fan of the Netherlands enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Australia and Netherlands at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 18, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - : A fan looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match between Russia and South Korea at Arena Pantanal on June 17, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Fans of the Brazilian football team arrive to watch a match on a giant screen in the 'Fan Fest' area in Porta Negro on June 17, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil. Brazil, the host nation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, are due to play their second group match against Mexico in Fortaleza today. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Fans pictures from the 2014 brazil World Cup.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - A Poland supporter gestures prior to the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between Poland and Portugal at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 30, 2016.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - A Honduras fan shows hher support prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Honduras and Switzerland at Arena Amazonia on June 25, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Fans arrive for the Group E match between Switzerland and France during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at Arena Fonte Nova on June 20, 2014 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. (Photo by Felipe Oliveira / Getty Images)
LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 12: Germany fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Germany and Ukraine at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 12, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Ludivine Payet (1st L), wife of Dimitri Payet of France kisses her child prior to the match between Germany and France at Stade Velodrome on July 7, 2016 in Marseille, France.
BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 14: A Colombia fan holds a flag prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Greece at Estadio Mineirao on June 14, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10: Fans before the match Brazil v Denmark on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Arena Fonte Nova on August 10, 2016 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Felipe Oliveira/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. - Supporters of Mexico wait for the start of the Copa America Centenario football tournament match against Venezuela in Houston, Texas, United States, on June 13, 2016.
A Colombian supporter celebrates after Teofilo Gutierrez scored his side's second goal during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Greece at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Belgian Fanny Neguesha, Mario Balotelli's girlfriend, attends at the group D World Cup soccer match between England and Italy at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
An England fan wearing face paint before the game during the Group D match in the Estadio do Sao Paulo, Brazil
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. Fans pictures from the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
A Poland supporter looks on prior to the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between Poland and Portugal at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 30, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. Fans pictures from the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. A Polish supporter blows a kiss prior to the Euro 2016 Group C soccer match between Germany and Poland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, France, Thursday, June 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. Poland's fans pose within the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland on June 12, 2016 in the fan zone at the bottom of the Eiffel tower in Paris, during the UEFA Euro 2016 football championship.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world. A football fan waits for the start of the Copa America Centenario football tournament match between the United States and Paraguay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, on June 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Fans of Brazil during 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match between Brazil and Colombia at Arena da Amazonia at Arena da Amazonia on September 6, 2016 in Manaus, Brazil. (Photo by Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images)
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JULY 07: Ludivine Sagna, wife of Bacary Sagna of France is seen in the stand is seen prior to the UEFA EURO semi final match between Germany and France at Stade Velodrome on July 7, 2016 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - A France supporter waits for the start of the Euro 2016 semi-final football match between Germany and France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on July 7, 2016.
The beautiful game - football fans from around the world - Supporters show their banners for Bastian Schweinsteiger during the international friendly match between Germany and Finland at Borussia-Park on August 31, 2016 in Moenchengladbach, Germany. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Bongarts/Getty Images)
MANAUS, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 06: Fans of Brazil during 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match between Brazil and Colombia at Arena da Amazonia at Arena da Amazonia on September 6, 2016 in Manaus, Brazil. (Photo by Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images)
MANAUS, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 06: Fans of Brazil during 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualification match between Brazil and Colombia at Arena da Amazonia at Arena da Amazonia on September 6, 2016 in Manaus, Brazil. (Photo by Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, DISTRITO FEDERAL - AUGUST 13: Fans of Portugal cheer as they take on Germany during the second half of the Men's Football Quarterfinal match on Day 8 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Mane Garrincha Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Bruno Zanardo/Getty Images)

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For years now, England's teams have struggled in Europe's elite competition. The last four finals have not featured a single side from the Premier League while the last all-English final stretches back to 2008.

Although Chelsea may have lifted the Champions League trophy back in 2012, beating Bayern Munich 4-3 penalties in their own back yard, their success was by no means a reflection of English supremacy at the time.

But on the back of a record-breaking transfer window, during which the Premier League flexed its financial muscles and brought in some of the biggest names in the sport, there's a growing sense among many, Lineker included, that English football is finally returning to its former lofty heights.

“It's only a matter of time,” the pundit remarked.

“In terms of success of countries in international football, obviously at the moment Spanish football is super-dominant, and we've seen that not only in the Champions League but also in the Europa League as well.

“But now we're seeing that the best coaches in the world go to our league and I think what will ensue is that the best players in the world will come to our league because our league is where all the real money is.

“It might not be this generation in terms of the Messis and Ronaldos, it's a bit late for them. But I'm almost convinced that we'll see the next superstars come to our league and our big clubs will be the Barcelonas and Real Madrids of tomorrow.

“It might take a year, two years, three years, but I think it will happen. The amount of money that comes into the Premier League is so great that the only other place that could compete is China and big players are not going to want to go there until the end of their careers.”

Although the 55-year-old was right to admit Spanish football is “super-dominant” at the moment, it's evident to see the seismic forces currently at work within the Premier League – forces that, as Lineker predicts, will blow fortune in the direction of England's top clubs.

Indeed, Pep Guardiola's arrival at Manchester City was the first significant indication of the summer that the Premier League is back on the upward trajectory. A manager of his stature and ability will pay dividends not just for the club but for English football too as more ‘superstars’ flock to the league.

City have already brought in some of the game's most exciting names under the Catalan, including Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane, while their performance in the Manchester derby attests to what is to come – both in England and Europe.

Lineker himself believes that City offer the best chance of returning European glory to England.

“I think they are certainly more competitive than they have been in recent years, “he said. “Obviously they got to the semi-final last year, although they didn't play brilliantly to get there.

“But Guardiola, the fact that he has managed to change the manner of the way they play so quickly, he has got it over to the players so quickly, it says quite a lot about his players as well. They’ve adapted quickly. They are intelligent. But it shows what a master teacher he clearly is to do it so quickly.

“I suspect City will be our club that would have the best chance of success this season in the Champions League and they could conceivably go all the way.

“But it's his first season and it's going to be difficult as he found at Bayern Munich. It's a knockout competition and you play against great sides towards the latter stages.

“So it's difficult but I think they’ll have a better chance than they've had in recent years.”

It's not just about the managers though. As Gary pointed out, “our league is where all the real money is”.

Roughly £1.17bn was spent by the Premier League throughout this year's summer transfer window – almost double what Serie A spent (£590m) and nearly triple the La Liga's spending (£400m).

In particular, Paul Pogba's record-breaking move to United further suggests that the tables are slowly starting to turn for English football.

Home to some of the biggest and best managers in the world, and with the money to match, perhaps Lineker is right to suggest then that the next generation of superstars, the 'Messis and Ronaldos' as he terms it, will be making their way to England in the next couple of years.

“Whether it produces the best football in the world or not is for other people to decide, but it's an exciting league and every game is competitive and people love it around the world,” Lineker added.

“It's a financial triumph so in the end that's where all the big players will come. We've got all the big managers and we'll have all the big players.”

As for Leicester's chances, however, the BT Sport presenter was not quite as optimistic.

When asked if the Foxes could emulate the European success of Nottingham Forest in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lineker admitted: “Realistically, of course it is beyond the realms of possibility.

“In many ways, if you get through the group stage, which they have got a reasonable chance of doing, but then you get to the knockout stage and I suppose in many ways it is easier to win something like that than something with 38 games where you have got to do it over a long period of time. In a knockout thing it is a little bit different.

“But Leicester against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich? Realistically, if they had kept that team from last season together you’d still have said no chance. Now they are without the little fella [N’Golo Kante] as well, of course they have got no chance.”

So will he be placing another bet anytime soon?

“I am not going to make any silly promises. Even though it worked last season, I will not be doing that again.”

It seems Gary has learnt his lesson, maybe. Even so, when it comes to his beloved Leicester, you can’t help but think he’d be happy to be proved wrong all over again.

BT Sport is the only place to watch all four major football competitions in one place, with exclusively live coverage of the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the Emirates FA Cup. Watch Leicester versus Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League exclusively live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm on Wednesday September 14.

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