David Villa: Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time

The New York City FC forward has backed his former team-mate – and Barcelona’s new boss Luis Enrique – to silence the doubters

David Villa: Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time

Former Barcelona striker David Villa believes Lionel Messi will be remembered as the greatest player of all time and that boss Luis Enrique will succeed because he understands how the “complicated” club works.

Villa is holidaying back in Spain ahead of the 2015 MLS season, where he will play for New York City FC. He spoke at an Audi event in Gijon and was asked about his former club’s season and the form of Messi, who is on the three-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded on January 12.

Villa insisted that the Argentine remains the greatest player of all time, even if Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid is favourite for the award.

“I’ve spoken about [Messi] for a long time and I will continue to speak about him,” Villa said. “For me, the best player in the world is Lionel Messi, whether he scores the most goals or not, because I have never seen anyone do what he does on the football pitch. I think he is the best in history because he is so unique and I’ve not seen anyone that can equal him.

“As for the (Ballon d’Or) criteria, I’m not really sure how it works. Sometimes it’s a World Cup year, sometimes it isn’t. Let them vote. For me, there is no doubt as to who is the best, year after year.”

Messi, who led Argentina to the World Cup final, is widely expected to miss out to Ronaldo in January’s Ballon d’Or. In part that could be attributed to the fact that Barcelona have not won a major trophy since the 2012-13 Liga title, while Real Madrid have claimed the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

Former Barca player Luis Enrique was appointed coach this summer and, while he has endured a mixed start to life in the Camp Nou dugout, Villa feels his fellow Asturian will prove successful.

“He is ready for this, definitely, totally, because of everything he learned as a player, everything he knows about his club, and everything he has learned as a coach afterwards,” he added.

“It’s a complicated club, because the big clubs and their coaches are studied every day. But the people at Barcelona love him, he loves Barca, he has what it takes to be a coach, he has the players on the pitch and, at the end, I am sure he will have a great year.”

Petit blasts ‘hypocritical and cowardly’ French for treatment of Henry

The 44-year-old made reference to World War II in a scathing attack on his compatriots over their indifferent attitude to his World Cup-winning team-mate

Petit blasts 'hypocritical and cowardly' French for treatment of Henry

Emmanuel Petit has accused France as a nation of being “hypocritical and cowardly” over a perceived lack of love for Thierry Henry, revealing that he sometimes thinks it would have been better if the country had been “overrun by the Germans”.

Henry looks set to have played his last game as a professional following New York Red Bulls’ MLS Cup elimination at the weekend, though the forward has yet to confirm if he will now call time on his illustrious career.

The 37-year-old’s potential retirement has made headlines in England, where Henry spent eight years plying his trade with Arsenal, who unveiled a statue of the striker outside the Emirates Stadium in 2011 in recognition of his status as the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Henry, though, does not enjoy as strong a bond with his native France – despite playing a key role in the country’s World Cup triumph in 1998.

Now, in an astonishing outburst that makes reference to Germany’s occupation of France during World War II as well as Henry’s infamous handball in a World Cup play-off against Republic of Ireland in 2009, Petit has accused his compatriots of exhibiting hypocrisy and cowardice in their attitude towards his former team-mate.

“In England, they’ve built a statue of Thierry,” the ex-Arsenal midfielder told Sports.fr. “That means a lot. He’s adored there. It bothers me.

“What can we reproach Henry for? His handball against Ireland? He helped France qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. He has done nothing.

“France is hypocritical and cowardly. Sometimes I think that if we’d been overrun by the Germans, we’d be better run.

“He’s not hated but he’s certainly not loved. He got screwed by the French press after his handball and has since not spoken to the French media.

“In France, he has no collusion with the press, so what? Perhaps because he was not smiling when he scored for les Bleus! Well, that’s what I hate in this country.

“I have great difficulty with the French, I have never seen such arrogant, smug, lying and hypocritical people.”

Petit, who was capped 63 times by Les Bleus, spent three years at Arsenal himself, between 1997 and 2000.

Henry wishes for Arsenal return

The 37-year-old believes he still has something to offer on the pitch, while Arsene Wenger has said the Frenchman will “certainly” return at some point in the future

Henry wishes for Arsenal return

Thierry Henry admits he is keen to return to Arsenal and has indicated that he is not ready to retire following his departure from New York Red Bulls.

The 37-year-old has called time on his four-and-a-half-year stint in Major League Soccer and has been linked with a move back to Arsene Wenger’s side, where he won two Premier League titles and remains the club’s all-time highest goalscorer.

When asked about a potential return to Arsenal, Henry told reporters: “Christmas is arriving soon, so it’s a wish.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen like this, but it is a wish.

“I do think I still can play.

“It’s all a bit blurry right now. It has only been a day [since I left Red Bulls]. We will see what happens.”

Arsene Wenger also believes that Henry will “certainly” return to Arsenal in some capacity but insists the Frenchman will be given time to consider his options.

“He is an Arsenal man. The best moment certainly of his life and of his career has been experienced here,” said the Gunners manager.

“Certainly one day he will come back here. In what role I don’t know, that is what he has to think about: what direction he wants to give to his next life.”