With his contract expiring at the end of 2014, Thierry Henry’s future with the New York Red Bulls has been one of the major talking points in MLS over the course of the current campaign.
Having just turned 37, retirement rumours have been swirling in recent months but, while it remains uncertain whether he will call it a career, it’s now clear that that the Frenchman won’t be back in New York next season.
Just 48 hours after a report on SI.com claimed that there was ‘zero chance’ the club would renew his deal, Red Bull Head of Global Football Gerard Houllier confirmed that his compatriot would not be returning in 2015, and could instead opt to explore opportunities overseas rather than hang up his boots.
‘He planned to end his career, it is possible that these are his last matches,’ the former Liverpool manager told France Foot.
‘Maybe there’s still the itch and he’ll re-sign somewhere, but it will not be with the Red Bulls.’
Having arrived in July 2010 from Barcelona to much fanfare, Henry is in the midst of his most productive MLS season to date, notching up 13 assists and nine goals in 27 games to demonstrate that his aging legs are still more than capable of producing the goods.
With the club captain looking set to depart, however, one has to wonder whether a “farewell” stint – similar to David Beckham’s with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 – could be a potential option at his beloved Arsenal.
The Gunners icon faced his former club in the summer when Arsene Wenger’s side travelled to New York for a pre-season game which saw the Red Bulls claim a 1-0 win, and the man who helped mould him into one of the deadliest finishers in world football over eight seasons in north London was full of praise for his performance.
‘Thierry can be dangerous from everywhere,’ Wenger told MLSsoccer.com after seeing Henry set up the winner.
‘He understands very quickly what he can take advantage from. He was sharp today as well in the one-on-ones and you could see why he was a great player because when he played in midfield, his passing was excellent and his as well. You could see that he can play everywhere.’
On paper, a short-term return to the Emirates in January makes perfect sense, with Henry able to play out the rest of the season where he became a footballing legend before riding off into retirement in a fairy-tale ending.
While he likely wouldn’t be a major contributor, the World Cup-winner could certainly still offer a lot a lot to Wenger’s squad over the second-half of the campaign, serving not only as another creative outlet but also as a mentor and much-needed experienced head for the crucial final run-in.
It remains to be seen how things will develop out over the coming months but, after his productive two-month loan spell back at the club at the start of 2012, supporters would no doubt be thrilled to see him return for one final hurrah.