Thierry Henry has revealed that he wanted to return to Arsenal after his first season away with Barcelona, but when Pep Guardiola took over as coach, he taught him a new way to play.
The Frenchman left Arsenal in 2007 after eight glorious years in North London, and left as our all-time top goalscorer and is widely considered to be our GOAT (Greatest of all-time).
He admits that he didn’t think he would ever leave the club he had grown so fond of, and even wanted a return after only 12 months away from the club, but was then forced to learn a new way to play by new coach Pep Guardiola, who taught him the importance on using space and staying in position.
Whilst talking to current Premier League star Sergio Aguero, who has the most top-flight goals of all the remaining active players, he revealed how he had so much freedom at Arsenal, which he no longer had at Barca.
‘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.’
Thierry came back to the subject later on with England Women’s number 7 Nikita Parris, where he added that he had to relearn the game under Pep, and the rewards were amazing as they landed a European and domestic treble.
‘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.’
It’s a shame that we wasn’t able to help Henry win the Champions League, but he certainly deserved at least one for his amazing performances over the years, and working under Pep may well have given him another view which may well help him to become a top coach in the coming years.
Could there be a better combination of managers to have worked under to learn the tactics of the beautiful game?