Henry set to join the Red Bulls
Just over an hour into Barcelona's Champions League semifinal elimination to Internazionale,
It could also have left the sporting and marketing departments at Red Bull New York, the club Henry looks certain to join after the World Cup, wondering if they have made a rather large mistake in their efforts to recruit him.
Unsurprisingly, considering its season only finished on Sunday night, Barcelona has not yet agreed to any sale. It would demand some compensation given that Henry's contract has one more year to run, and both parties would need to make sure contingencies are in place were Henry to suffer an injury at the World Cup. So it's not a done deal just yet.
As a marquee signing, Henry ticks all the right boxes: The current France captain, he is a former World Cup and European Championship winner, and the top scorer (with 51 goals) in the French national team's history. His goals also helped Arsenal win two Premier League titles and three FA Cups, and he regularly tops fans' poll as their all-time favorite player. With
However, it has been a swift fall from grace for Henry, who had 26 goals and 12 assists in Barcelona's all-conquering campaign in 2008-09 -- the team won the league, the Spanish Cup and the Champions League, and added to that the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup to become the first side holding all six titles in one year. Henry had finally overcome the jinx of talented French players who have struggled at Barcelona in the past, a list that includes
Last week, Barcelona president
But will the MLS be welcoming a busted flush, or is there more to come from the 32-year-old? The answer, as with most issues surrounding Henry, is not simple.
One theory is that after winning every title going last season, particularly his "Holy Grail," the Champions League, Henry simply took his foot off the gas; another is that his attention was focused on France's difficult World Cup qualifying campaign (though a similar problem didn't seem to affect the form of teammate
Preseason back and Achilles injuries contributed to his sluggish start to the campaign. The emergence of the prolific
Even though the club fully supported Henry during the media storm following his controversial role in the "handball" goal that qualified France for the World Cup, Guardiola did not seem impressed by the player in training. "Thierry knows he can give more and I expect more from him," was a familiar refrain from the coach at Barcelona's pregame press conferences.
The die was cast after Barcelona was drawn against Henry's former club Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinals. "The bond I have with the Arsenal fans I will never get anywhere else," Henry told
Barcelona were 2-0 ahead in the first leg at the Emirates, but ended up drawing 2-2, with captain
Although Henry has cut an unhappy figure in Spain this season, there could yet be a twist in this tale. Henry gave a hint of it in a recent interview with French magazine
He may have been referring to the example of
"Great players in all World Cups are often those who have been able to rest during the season. Just look at Zidane four years ago," UEFA president and former France international
Henry will be praying that he falls into that category once the World Cup gets underway -- but not half as much as the management team at the Red Bulls.