What Lionel Messi Did Last Season Was Just Ridiculous! - Barcelona's Thierry Henry

Answering questions put to him by Goal.com, Thierry Henry talks about Leo Messi, hopes to avoid Arsenal in the quarter-finals and sums up his own current form.
He is a player that is always in demand. He makes news headlines if he is in the team, he makes the headlines if he is out of it. For much of this season it has been more about the latter. That said, Thierry Henry has bounced back to form. It's a revival which began in the second half against Valencia on Sunday.  Henry, replacing the ineffective Bojan Krkic, put on one of his finest displays of the season, and it was good enough to get him a start against Stuttgart, the big surprise being that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, back from suspension, was the one left to stew on the bench instead.

And for Henry, as against Valencia, he showed that there is still life in a player many were happy to write off as a has-been. The Catalan press have been wondering if his only inspiration at the moment is just to keep himself fit to lead Les Bleus into the World Cup finals in South Africa. But surely not. Henry played the full 90 minutes against Stuttgart, and right up to the end of the game was hurling himself at a deep cross, in a desperate attempt to score and further humiliate an already broken and embarrassed opposition.

But talking after the game, the Frenchman did not think his team's win was a stroll in a park.

"I think Stuttgart are a very good team, but the one thing that we did well was to put pressure on them. I also think that Leo Messi scoring his goal so early in the game helped us to see out the game. But it definitely wasn't a simple game for us."

Of course, while Henry has regained something of his form, the limelight rightly belongs to the diminutive Argentine Messi, who is the star of the Barcelona show. The number 10 has now scored eight goals in just four games, and eight of his side's last 11 goals. So I ask Henry if the 22-year-old is now playing better than even last season.

" I don't know if you can say that, because what he did last year was just ridiculous. I think he is maintaining what he was doing then. I mean he's playing at a level that...."

Henry stops momentarily, as though he is at a complete loss to find words to describe another dominating performance by Messi.

"Well, look I just don't want him to stop," he eventually continues. "Nobody at Barcelona wants him to stop playing like this. But it is kind of ridiculous what he's doing. He is just so amazing. It is a complete joy to see him playing like this."

Messi sunk Valencia's challenge on Sunday with a superb hat-trick and all he needed against Stuttgart were 13 minutes to warm up. Then, picking up a ball deep inside the Germans' half, he ran diagonally at pace at the entire defence before curling an exquisite shot past the desperate dive of Jens Lehman. It was game over. With Messi in such form, so much so that Xavi, injured in training a day before the game, wasn't even missed, then surely Barca are the outstanding favourites. No team has managed to retain the Champions League yet, but despite their irresistable form Henry urges caution.

"All the teams remaining are going to be very difficult to beat. If you are in the quarter-finals then you deserve to be there. And that means that you are going to be a tough team to beat."

So is there one team that Henry would like to face in the next round?

"Let's say there is one team that I don't want to play and that is Arsenal. That's because of my affinities there and because of my love for the club. But after that you know you can never tell. And you can't say 'oh I want them and I don't want them' because I think that shows a lack of respect for me to say that about other teams."

Having come on to inspire Barcelona in the second half against Valencia, and played a full 90 against Stuttgart, Henry will be hoping to feature against Real Zaragoza at the weekend in La Liga. By his own admission he has struggled to find form, but feels that he could turn that around.

"Playing in a team like this one does help. They move the ball quite well and so all I have to do is get behind the defence and create space for everybody. I am just trying to do my best. You know, I am not 20 anymore. I know what it takes to win some games sometimes. Yes, it was difficult when I wasn't playing because of a loss of form, but slowly and surely I am trying to gain that back."

As a final question, I ask Henry if he would like to stay at Barcelona next season. His answer is polite but curt.

"Its still not the end of the season. So that is not the decision for right now." 

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