Speculation rife about Henry joining Barca

Thierry Henry did little to dampen the speculation that he's about to leave Arsenal for Barcelona.

updated: May 31, 2007 14:34 IST
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Thierry Henry did little to dampen the speculation that he's about to leave Arsenal for Barcelona.

Earlier this month, Barcelona president Joan Laporta said he was "finalizing the signing" of the French striker, and newspapers in Spain have reported he may get a three-year deal.

Ask about it on Wednesday during a promotional trip to Beijing, Henry alluded to "a lot of stuff happening at the club recently," which included the ouster from the board of former vice chairman David Dein - a close friend of Henry and coach Arsene Wenger.

"Since I started playing football there has been speculation about me going to a lot of clubs," Henry said. "So that will never, ever stop. But as I said, for now I'm an Arsenal player. So there is nothing to add to it. For now I am an Arsenal player, so that's all I can tell you."

Henry might replace Samuel Eto'o

If he goes, Henry might replace Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who is reported for sale at the Catalan club. In Spain, Henry would be able to showcase his quick ball skills in what is probably Europe's most technical league, teaming up front with Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.

Henry is coming off an injury-filled season at Arsenal, which finished fourth in the Premier League behind Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Injuries will keep him out of two upcoming European Championship qualifying matches: France plays against Ukraine on Saturday and on June 6 against Georgia.

Henry said he was frustrated at Arsenal's poor finish. He also suggested the London club relied too much on young players.

"This year it was pretty difficult to see once again that we finished so far way from the top teams," he said. "But a lot of teams behind us can say that, too. I'm getting annoyed that we're finishing at the end of the top four now."

"Sometimes having a lot of youngsters in your squad - I'm not trying to look for any excuses - you cannot have the same sprit, the same results. Winning is a very difficult process. You just don't arrive there."

Henry also sympathized with the pressure on Chinese athletes with the Beijing Olympics barely a year away. China is expected to top the medal table, dislodging the United States from its traditional perch.

"I'm afraid it's a pressure that won't go away," Henry told Chinese reporters.

"I think everyone will perform," he added. "Having said that, I know how hard it is to perform at home. The expectations of the country will be pretty high. But what a chance to be always remembered as the guy who won the gold medal at home."

Henry was also noncommittal about an invitation to attend the Olympics from basketball star Yao Ming, who also has a promotional contract with the sportswear brand Reebok. He said playing in next summer's European Championship might interfere.

"But why not," he said. "You never know what can happen. When you receive an invitation like that you always have to take it into consideration."

Henry likened China's burden in the 2008 Olympics to the one France faced in the 1998 World Cup. France won the title before a home crowd at the Stade de France, and Henry was a little-known reserve player caught up in the mayhem.

"It was just out of the world, winning the World cup at 20, at home, in front of everybody just around from where I grew up," said Henry, who turns 30 in August. "The feelings were just too much to handle."

He also hinted that his retirement from international soccer might come at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Provided France qualified.

"It will be amazing to play in Africa," he said. "It will be actually, I think, my last-ever tournament because you can't play all your life."