Thierry Henry explains why it was ‘easier’ to play for Arsenal than Barcelona

Kanu and Thierry Henry celebrate during Arsenal's win over Middlesborough
Thierry Henry says Kanu made his life ‘easier’ at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Thierry Henry claims he found it ‘easier’ to play for Arsenal than Barcelona as he was given more freedom to move around the pitch playing alongside Dennis Bergkamp and Kanu under Arsene Wenger.

The 42-year-old is widely regarded as the greatest player ever to pull on an Arsenal shirt, racking up 228 goals in 376 appearances across two spells in north London and winning two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and two Community Shields.

Henry ended his first eight-year spell in the summer of 2007 to join Barcelona and the Frenchman had to quickly adapt his game to suit the styles of, firstly, Frank Rijkaard and then Pep Guardiola.

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Barcelona's French forward Thierry Henry (R), Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez (C) and Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta (L) celebrate after winning their Spanish League football match against Valladolid at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 16, 2010. Barcelona retained the Spanish La Liga title on the final day of the 2009/10 season with a 4-0 win over Valladolid at Camp Nou on Sunday to finish above arch rivals Real Madrid. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO. (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Henry and Barca won a historic treble in 2009 (Picture: Getty)

Barca failed to win any silverware in Henry’s opening season at the club and the iconic striker even expressed dissatisfaction with the move, repeatedly hinting at a possible return to the Premier League.

However, the Catalan giants won a historic treble the following season as Henry, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o combined to score 100 goals between them in all competitions.

On Sunday, Henry sat down with Sergio Aguero for PUMA Football to discuss their respective careers and the ex-France international went into detail about the difference between his experiences at Arsenal and Barcelona.

‘At Arsenal I could go wherever I wanted,’ Henry explained.

‘Like when you [Aguero] played with Diego Forlan. It was much easier for me at Arsenal because I had either Bergkamp or Kanu.

‘They liked staying in the middle which allowed me to drop back, move on the right side, left side.’

Henry likened working with Guardiola at the Nou Camp to playing a game of chess and said he started to understand and appreciate the importance of space under the Spaniard.

‘I was at Arsenal, I never thought I was going to leave but I did,’ Henry added in a later chat with England and Lyon star Nikita Parris.

‘I went to Barcelona, a different type of game, a different type of style to relearn how to play the game because at Arsenal, Dennis was there, Kanu was there and I could move everywhere up front, come in the middle, get the ball, go on the right and the left.

‘Then suddenly you arrive at Barcelona and I had Rijkaard asking me to stay on the left and then when Pep arrived… Pep is an amazing coach first and foremost but he’s very demanding, very intense and it’s almost like you play chess with him.

‘You always want to be a step ahead of what you’re doing. To do that you have to stay in your position in order to make the pitch as big as possible for the midfielders to operate what they need to operate.

‘And you need to make fake runs to take the backline away, to create space for the No.10 on your side because we were playing with one holding midfielder and two No.10s so I always had to make runs in behind to make sure that Andres [Iniesta] was going to get the ball and if you don’t you kill the space. And then I started to understand space, move in the space.

‘It was a different type of game and then once I did adjust and adapt then in 2009 we went on the year of winning everything possible.

‘It was an amazing time but as you know, Arsenal is in my heart.’

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