Henry adds to Barca's formidable strike force
21 August 2007, MADRID - The addition of Thierry Henry gives FC Barcelona a "fantastic four" of forwards, and that should put the team back in first place in Spain.
21 August 2007
MADRID - The addition of Thierry Henry gives FC Barcelona a "fantastic four" of forwards, and that should put the team back in first place in Spain.
Barcelona went into last season as the two-time defending champions and also the Champions League holders. But Real Madrid, led by the departing David Beckham late in the season, claimed the title.
In the offseason, Barcelona president Joan Laporta paid 24 million (US$32 million) for Henry, who joins two-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi as one of the most potent attacks ever assembled.
"We have a lot of options, and every player has quality," Eto'o said. "At times we're selfish, but we've all got to understand that our teammates and coach are looking for what's best for the team, and if you sit on the bench, that's it _ anything more won't be accepted."
Henry led the English Premier League in scoring four times while with Arsenal, and he has already found his stride in Spain, scoring two goals in the preseason while recovering from injuries that limited him to 17 games last season.
"I am excited because we have wonderful players and I think that we all want to show something and we are all working toward that," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said.
But Rijkaard has been vague about whether all four players will play at once, insisting "there is no definite 11" ahead of its league debut at Racing Santander on Aug. 26.
"We clearly have a great squad where everyone can play," midfielder Andres Iniesta said. "The squad is big and that is always a positive thing."
Henry, Eto'o and Ronaldinho have played well together, while Messi scored another amazing goal against Bayern Munich in a friendly last week in his first game back after the Copa America.
Rijkaard has also promoted 18-year-old Giovanni Dos Santos, a creative midfielder from Mexico who has been called Ronaldinho's heir apparent, to the first team.
"He is my secret weapon," Rijkaard said.
Dos Santos, fresh off a stellar campaign at the under-20 World Cup in Canada, has made the transition to starter effortlessly, leading the team with four goals during the preseason tour. Unfortunately, his debut won't come in the team's opener at Racing Santander since he won't be receiving his Spanish passport until Aug. 28.
"The boy is having a very good season and is preparing well and is looking very strong," Rijkaard said. "It is obvious that he is capable of helping the team a great deal."
Bojan Krkic, a 16-year-old forward, has also found himself promoted to the first team and could come off the bench after he returns from the under-17 World Cup in South Korea.
The defense has also been improved with the additions of right back Eric Abidal from Lyon, midfielder Yaya Toure from Monaco and center back Gabriel Milito from Zaragoza, who is sure to play because captain Carles Puyol is injured.
Striker Javier Saviola left for Real Madrid and forward Ludovic Giuly went to AS Roma. And although Eidur Gudjohnsen, Thiago Motta and Santi Ezquerro are all still with the team, they will be looking to move after being told they won't get any playing time.
[Copyright AP with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news