France striker Thierry Henry completed his €24m move from Arsenal FC to FC Barcelona on Monday saying he had come to the club to play a style of football he had "always admired".
Henry, who turns 30 in August, was unveiled at Camp Nou after passing a medical and signing a four-year deal. "I'm delighted to be here and so pleased that I will have a chance to show what I can do," Henry told a packed news conference. "This is a club that wants to win everything and I will try my hardest to help them achieve that. I'm going to give 100 per cent and I'm not going to be putting myself before the club. Barcelona play a style of football I've always admired. I want to be part of that and to play in this great stadium and to enjoy some amazing football."
Barça president Joan Laporta said signing the former AS Monaco FC and Juventus attacker had been a long-standing dream of the club: "Thierry Henry is a player we've been after for many years and now he's here. Johan Cruyff wanted to sign Thierry Henry when he was a young player. When I was elected president in 2003 I wanted to sign him, we also wanted to get him last year and today it is a great pleasure to finally see him here. He is one of the best players in the world and given his quality, experience and commitment he comes to Barcelona at the perfect moment."
Henry, who turned down the club and signed a four-year contract with Arsenal after they lost to the 2006 UEFA Champions League final to Frank Rijkaard's team in Paris, was presented with the No14 shirt, the squad number he had at Arsenal and the same as that worn by Barcelona great Cruyff. The Frenchman offered a few words of fluent Catalan after being presented with the shirt, saying his former Arsenal team-mate Cesc Fabregas had coached him on what to say. With expectation reminiscent of that which greeted Ronaldinho when he joined in 2003, an estimated 20,000 fans turned up at Camp Nou to witness the arrival of the Frenchman as he walked out to the sound of the club anthem.
'More than a club'
Looking rather taken aback by the reception he saluted the crowd, juggled with the ball and posed for the traditional round of photographs. "I was very surprised to see so many people out there waiting," said Henry. "You don't even dream about things like that. It's true what they say, Barcelona is more than a club." Barça were denied a third straight Spanish title on the final day of the season a week ago, losing out to arch-rivals Real Madrid CF on head-to-head results. Barcelona, who will compete in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League alongside Madrid next season, also announced today that they will sign Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Touré from AS Monaco FC on Tuesday, subject to a medical. No fee was revealed for the 24-year-old brother of Henry's former Arsenal team-mate Kolo Touré, but reports suggest it exceeds €10m.
©Reuters 1998-2010. All rights reserved.