Cruyff says Henry made 'mistake' to snub Barça

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The Independent Football

Johan Cruyff, the former Barcelona and Netherlands legend, last night insisted Thierry Henry will regret his decision not to join the Catalan giants.

Cruyff, who played for and coached the Nou Camp side, said: "In the cold light of day, without looking inside his head, I think that he has made a mistake. He has taken a decision in the heat of the moment when you should make them with a lot of consideration.

"With his track record of what he has achieved in France and England it only lacked a spell in Spain to give him the rubber stamp. This spell could have been at Barcelona."

Cruyff believes Barça will find it difficult next season to defend their European and Spanish crowns. He added: "Next year everything starts again from zero, nothing has been won and it is easier to arrive than to maintain success. For this reason it would have been good that Henry signed because he is a great player."

David Dein yesterday explained how close Arsenal came to losing the services of Henry last week and also said the club had turned down two offers of £50m for the striker. Henry signed a new four-year deal to put an end to a year of speculation but the club's vice-chairman said that it had not been done without some serious deliberation by the player.

When asked if Henry had come close to leaving, Dein said: "I think he probably did. And of course, he only made his decision on Thursday evening and we were on tenterhooks for the best part of six to eight months.

"I don't know whether he did [talk to another club], but it was quite clear because we had two of the biggest Spanish clubs in touch with us wanting to know what was going to happen to his career at the end of the season.

"Obviously, we were not in a selling mode. We turned down world-record deals for Thierry from two Spanish clubs - and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out who they were," he said.

Henry finally told the club's manager, Arsène Wenger, that he was staying on Thursday, 24 hours after the European Cup final defeat by Barcelona.

Dein added: "[Him staying] was because of a combination of factors. Thierry, firstly, is a very intelligent man. He would have weighed up his decision very carefully. He always said he was going to make his decision before the World Cup.

"There were several issues; one, his family. He obviously cares very much about the quality of his domestic life and the fact that his wife wants to stay in London. He loves the club. He's been here seven years, and he respects the fans and indeed fans [of other teams]. And put on top of that the ambition where he can see the new stadium, 60,000 all-seater, he wants to lead the team out as captain."