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Saturday, June 23, 2007
'Why Barca? They play the Arsenal way' - Henry

Thierry Henry has claimed he would only have left the Emirates Stadium for Barcelona - because they play 'the Arsenal way'.

The France striker is on the verge of clinching a reported 16million move to the Nou Camp after finally deciding his time in north London must come to an end.

Henry is due in Catalonia tomorrow after the two clubs agreed the terms of the deal, with the Gunners claiming earlier today that just a medical and the 'completion of formalities' stand between the move taking place.

In an open letter to The Sun, published this morning, the 29-year-old claimed uncertainty over manager Arsene Wenger's future was a major factor in his decision to leave the Gunners, and also cited the departure of former vice-chairman David Dein, a close personal friend of Henry's, as another reason to quit for Spain.

Henry has tonight expanded on the logic behind his prospective move, and insisted Barca's footballing philosophy means it is his only possible destination after Arsenal.

'I left Arsenal to go to Barcelona because, no disrespect to any other team, but there are only two teams in the world who play football the way I like it,' he told the official Arsenal website.

'That is the way the people here like it - the Arsenal way.

'That is how we play football here and `we' play football there.

'If I can say that is one of the is the main reasons for (choosing) Barcelona. The football they play is attractive to watch.'

Henry's apparently certain departure has come as a massive blow to the club and its supporters, who are still raking over the ashes of another disappointing season.

A fourth-placed finish in the Barclays Premiership for a second season running failed to meet expectations, while there was no consolation to be found in the cup competitions where a final defeat by Chelsea in the Carling Cup was as good as it got for Wenger's men.

But Henry believes Gunners fans have every reason to be optimistic despite his decision to jump ship, and is adamant the talent is already there to fill his sizeable boots.

The former Juventus and Monaco frontman compares the situation now facing Arsenal to that encountered in 2005 when former captain and midfield lynchpin Patrick Vieira left for Juve.

Cesc Fabregas emerged immediately as a world-class replacement and was central to a run to the Champions League final the next season.

And Henry believes history will repeat itself in his wake.

He continued: 'The team here is growing and there is some amazing talent here and I do think this is the right time for Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner, who is coming back from Birmingham, to shine.

'Hopefully they will do it. As soon as you know they can do it, they will forget about me, that's the way it is.

'When Patrick left everyone was devastated, including me and then after that a little guy came around called Cesc Fabregas and, although I didn't agree with it, everyone started saying `who needs Patrick Vieira'?

'I don't believe what everybody is saying about the club collapsing, having a lack of players and everyone leaving. I think it is untrue.

'Cesc Fabregas is a world-class player, Robin van Persie is a world-class player, hopefully Adebayor will become a world-class player, Tomas Rosicky is a world-class player, Jens Lehmann is a world-class player, (Kolo) Toure and (William) Gallas are world-class players. You can go through the whole squad like that.'

Henry described choosing the switch to La Liga as 'the most difficult decision of my life' but reiterated his discontent over the managerial and boardroom uncertainty at the Emirates.

He said: 'Before Mr Dein left, for whatever reason, I went to the boss and said `I don't want to leave'.

'There had been a lot of speculation about me and I assured him that I did not want to leave.

'But after Mr Dein left that unsettled the team and the boss. Especially as at the moment he has not committed himself to the club.

'He said he will see out his contract but you cannot be sure if he is going to go or stay (at the end of next season).

'Hopefully he is going to stay but I need to be certain and reassured of that. Everybody knows I am 30 (in August).

'The boss being unsettled, Mr Dein going, it did unsettle me a bit. After that I had thoughts of leaving the club.'

If, as expected, Henry agrees terms with Barcelona it is believed the Spaniards hope to unveil their capture on Monday.

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