Henry pines for centre-stage role as Barca plot his exit
Forward may be on way out after one 'Liga' year.15 April 2008
BARCELONA - "If I play on the left, then you'll see a Henry who plays on the left," was the player's reply when asked why his presence had hardly been felt during Barcelona's Champions League match against Schalke 04 last week.
The Catalan team went through to the semi-finals, but Thierry Henry was the subject of whistling from Barca fans unhappy at what they saw as a lacklustre performance from the Frenchman.
Speaking to French sports daily, L'Équipe, after the Schalke game, the man who led English club Arsenal's attack for a decade said: "I don't know how to go about attacking since I have been playing out on the wing. I start up around 60 metres from the goal, run harder and faster than ever, but by the time I get close, I'm too tired to take on the defenders."
Barca coach Frank Rijkaard replied to Henry's comments saying: "He has worked very well on the wing. I don't pressure the player so that he feels limited; rather he should be intelligent enough to change position. A lot of players have this kind of freedom. He's scored goals, and set them up for other people. I'm not asking for the impossible here. He'll get over it."
The player signed up to cover out-of-favour Brazilian star Ronaldinho has now become something of a problem to Barcelona's managers. A back injury prevented him from giving his best during the first half of the season. He then blamed his daughter's absence for his mediocre showings: "I have seen her just five times in the last eight months, and I'm not happy; I need to see her," he said recently.
Now, with his grumblings over being stuck out on the wing, Henry has joined a long line of Barca imports who have had to adapt to the club's 4-3-3 attacking line-up based on playing three forwards and no specialist wide midfielders. England's Gary Lineker and the Brazilians Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho himself have all endured the same predicament.
But Henry's prima donna-like reaction is doing himself no favours. The club is now listening to offers for a player who as a new signing was received at the Camp Nou by 35,000 fans - 10,000 more than for Ronaldinho.
Henry has scored 14 goals in his 40 games so far this season, has set up eight others, and started some 84 runs of which 46 have proved successful. He has managed to keep out of the conflict between Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho, but his low-key performances have not only worried Barcelona, but the French national team, where his presence is also now in doubt.
[El Pais / Jaume Canut / Luis Martin / Expatica]