Goal.com's countdown to the greatest player of 2008 continues with France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, now of Barcelona...
49 - Javier Zanetti - Inter, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahce, Super Lig - Score: 1086
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Lyon, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Roman Riquelme - Boca, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - Bayern Munich, Bundesliga - Score: 1064
44 - David Silva - Valencia, Primera Division - Score: 1060
43 - Thierry Henry - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
When Thierry Henry signed for Barcelona in 2007, there was more than enough reason to regard him as the best forward in the world. True, he had just come off an injury-hit and unremarkable final year with Arsenal, but in his previous six seasons in the English capital, he had an exceptional goal return, success at both club and international level, sumptuous skills and excellent all-round play.
He arrived as the final member the 'Fantastic Four' at Barcelona, joining Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi. Not dissimilar to the situation at rivals Real Madrid in previous years, it proved one star too many, as the collective appeared to be on a downward spiral and injury-hit to boot.
Individually, Henry has a healthy Blaugrana goal return of 29 goals in 68 appearances, despite chronic back problems in early 2008 and being played on the left of a front three, where he feels he is 'out of his element,' something he has not stopped complaining about over the past year. That being said, more often than not, it has been in the games where he has been more enthusiastic and dynamic in his movement up front in which he has shone, instead of his laboured and often awkward showings where he has drifted out of games on the left-hand side.
Suffice to say that Henry's stock has plummetted considerably during his time in Spain, so much so that persistent rumours have abounded that he may return to England with tail tucked firmly between legs. The Frenchman's pride would not have that, though, and he has stuck it out with the Catalan club, profiting from the introduction of a new coach, Pep Guardiola, and his regime that has centred on restoring discipline in the Cule ranks.
In his final three games of the calendar year, the 'va-va-voom' star showed his class and ability to decide games of the highest magnitude. A hat-trick against a shaken Valencia side showed him at his most clinical, and while he had a reasonably quiet el Clasico against Real Madrid, he always asked questions of his man, and scored a crucial winner against Villarreal to keep Barca's lead at the top of La Liga at 10 points going into the Christmas break.
His inclusion in this list is likely to cause controversy, but is testament to his class that, even at the worst of times - not to mention during a troubling time in his personal life - he has come through with enough end product to remain a player upon whom Guardiola is relying as part of his starting line-up, which is unquestionably the strongest in Europe at this moment in time.
Barcelona has not proven to be the dream transfer Henry would have hoped for, and he is unlikely to be remembered as an all-time great. Despite that, and murmurs of an early 'retirement' to Major League Soccer in the United States, one thing at this moment in time is for sure: Henry is far from finished.
Sulmaan Ahmad, Goal.com