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The France legend, who won the World Cup alongside the forward in 1998, believes his former team-mate reached the same level in England as George Best and Eric Cantona

EXCLUSIVE
By Alex Labidou

Marcel Desailly believes former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry achieved the same status in England as George Best and Eric Cantona.

The ex-Chelsea centre-back says the Gunners legend did not receive the plaudits he deserved with the France national team, and has hailed him as one of the Premier League's greatest ever players.

“He was one of the best players to ever play in the Premier League. He was on the level of George Best or Eric Cantona,” Desailly told Goal.com.

“Unfortunately with the France national team, he didn’t get the consideration that [he deserves] considering who he was."

Desailly believes Henry has no regrets about deciding to play in the United States, despite recent speculation that the New York Red Bulls star is not happy with his time in Major League Soccer.

The duo were team-mates at the 1998 World Cup, and Desailly says Henry, who will play for the MLS All-Stars against Manchester United on Wednesday, always wanted to play in America.

“You have to understand, he didn’t come to MLS because of the money,” said Desailly.

“Ten or 15 years ago, he was telling me that he wanted to live in America. He told me that that was his dream, coming there and promoting football. He said that it was very important to him."

He added: “He told me that in 1997 that his future was going to be in America. That’s why I wasn’t surprised at all when he came. He liked the concept and the attitude and the lifestyle of the country."

After joining the New York Red Bulls last summer, Henry was expected to lead the struggling club to their first MLS title.

Yet, after a shock play-off defeat at the hands of San Jose and an inconsistent season, which has already seen the team draw 15 times and lose five games despite the Frenchman leading the league in scoring, Henry has been making his frustrations known.

When asked if there was anything he could say to rally his struggling team, Henry said: "How many messages do you want? How many times do we speak here?

"So I don't have anything much to say any more. We do speak a lot every time. I've spoken more here than in my entire career. I don't speak to the press the way I speak here.

"So I don't know what else you want me to say. We've got to win against Chivas. That's it."

Desailly believes those comments do not reflect Henry’s dedication to MLS but rather shows that he is just a sore loser.

The former defender points to Henry’s individual success this season as proof of his hunger to have an impact in America.

“This is what he wanted. He wanted to be a part of football’s history over there,” explained Desailly. “He performs because he wants to be important in the US."

Marcel Desailly spoke with Goal.com as a representative of the Barclays Premier League. Barclays is one of the largest banks in the world with operations in over 50 countries, providing personal, corporate, investment banking and wealth management services. For further information go to www.barclays.com

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