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Henry said to sign for Barca

MADRID (Reuters) - Arsenal’s French striker Thierry Henry will sign a four-year contract with Barcelona for a transfer fee of 24 million euros (16 million pounds), sources at the Primera Liga club said on Friday.

In this file picture, Arsenal football star Thierry Henry listens during a news conference for a promotional event in Beijing May 30, 2007. Henry will sign for Barcelona on Friday, sources close to the Primera Liga club said. REUTERS/Jason Lee

They said the deal was 99 percent closed and all that remained was for lawyers to check over the details. They added that the signing was likely to be made official on Saturday.

Henry, who will turn 30 in August, is expected to have a medical on Monday and be officially presented later that day.

Barcelona were denied a third straight Primera Liga title on the final day of the season last Sunday, losing out to arch-rivals Real Madrid on head-to-head results.

A great deal of soul-searching has gone on since then after a season with no silverware, and the club has moved quickly to strengthen the squad and appease the fans.

Henry was the focal point at Arsenal and their top scorer in four of the five Premier League seasons between 2001-06, though he spent much of the last campaign sidelined with injury.

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He turned down a move to Barca and signed a four-year contract with Arsenal after they lost to Frank Rijkaard’s team in the 2006 Champions League final.

The former Monaco and Juventus player’s change of mind will be a major blow to the north London side.

At Barca, Henry faces the prospect of having to find a place in the one of the most feared forward lines in European football, which includes Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, Brazil playmaker Ronaldinho and Argentina winger Lionel Messi.

One of Barca’s problems last term was that neither Iceland’s Eidur Gudjohnsen nor Argentina’s Javier Saviola provided adequate cover up front when Eto’o suffered a knee ligament injury.

Saviola has already announced his decision to leave the club and Gudjohnsen is expected to follow soon.

Barca will also be taking into account Eto’o’s African Nations Cup commitments, which will probably see him disappear for the best part of four weeks in the crucial months of January and February next year.

Barcelona are also expected to strengthen their defence in the close season with AS Roma’s Romanian centre-back Cristian Chivu their number one target.

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