Barcelona and Arsenal are not happy transfer bedfellows at the moment. Recent history casts the Catalans in an unfavourable light with constant public wooing of Arsenal’s top players met with the contempt that it deserves.
It wasn’t always that way. After all, we have done well in the past with the sale of Overmars and Petit bringing in considerable sums whilst Henry was in the twilight of his career. Alex Hleb irked but the Belorussian was hardly a success in La Liga, admitting in recent times that he should not have left Arsenal.
You wonder what might have been for the 1998-99 season had Henry joined and Anelka stayed. The title was lost by a single point and perhaps Henry could have been the difference?
The story itself doesn’t make sense in some respects, one of which is quite fundamental. Sonny Anderson played for Monaco before he joined Barcelona, not after. He left the Camp Nou in 1997 to join Olympique Lyonnais so how Monaco owed Barcelona money is not clear unless there were clauses which stated that if he left within a certain timeframe, part of the transfer fee was to be repaid. Whilst that is a strange deal, the financial situation at Monaco might have dictated such an agreement.
It was in all likelihood a confusion of rumours. Arsene Wenger had managed Henry at Monaco and knew the player; Arsenal were strongly linked with the player. But so to were Barcelona, rumoured to have offered £12m for his services. As it was, Juventus signed Henry in January 1999 but the rest as they say, is history.
The real reason for the transfer falling through is probably contained in the first sentence. £4m is parsimonious even by Arsenal’s standards!