The World Cup might just have finished but soccer hasn’t finished with you. And Major League Soccer is making a major league signing.
French, Arsenal and Barcelona great (OK, he wasn’t so great at Barca) Thierry Henry is to sign with the New York Red Bulls in what must be the highest profile U.S. soccer signature since David Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
And despite Henry offering up the usual quotes (“This marks an exciting new chapter in my career and life…I am fully aware of the team’s history and my sole goal during my time here is to help win the club its first championship.”), he can surely only continue the good work put in by Team USA in South Africa this past month. The 32-year-old Henry joins on a “multi-year contract.”
While Henry never quite lived up to his legendary status at Barcelona after all he achieved at Arsenal (he was the London club’s all-time record goalscorer, with 226 in 370 games), he nevertheless represents a pretty decent coup for MLS.
Dietmar Beiersdorfer, head of Red Bull global soccer, said, “We are thrilled that Thierry has decided to come to New York to help the Red Bulls compete for championships this year and for years to come. His international pedigree is second to none and he is a proven winner.”
Whether you think he’s in it for an easy payday and swansong to his career, or genuinely wants to make an impact in the U.S., helping MLS be as competitive a league as possible, is probably the $64,000 question (doubly ironic if that’s his weekly salary). But at least he’ll feel at home when he makes his debut on July 22: the Red Bulls are playing a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal’s bitter rivals. And there won’t be anything friendly about the welcome their fans give him.