After months of rumors and speculation, Thierry Henry officially joined the New York Red Bulls on Thursday. While he’s clearly no longer in the prime of his career, it’s hard to see the Frenchman not having a great run against the MLS going forward.
What I find more comforting though is the fact that this move is everything the David Beckham move wasn’t. He’s coming to the league to win and play the sport, not to build his brand and try living a Hollywood lifestyle. That’s not to say that he won’t enjoy the benefits of being an internationally-renowned star in the New York market, but initially, it appears his focus is on soccer.
In addition, he won’t be needing to prove his worth for future international competitions, as Henry also retired from French national team duty Thursday.
But the biggest difference is the most obvious, Henry is just a better player than Beckham. At one point in time it wasn’t out of the question to call Henry the best player in the world, a conversation that never involved Beckham. Let’s be clear here, Henry is only a season removed from starting and serving as a major goal scorer for a Barcelona team that won an unbelievable six trophies in the 2008-09 season. He may be past his prime, but it’s not by much.
The question does remain though, who will be providing service to both Henry and Juan Pablo Angel? The Red Bulls have said they are in talks with a play-making midfielder who is trying to work out a deal to leave his current club. I really don’t know who it is, but I just hope that it works out for RBNY. I think a successful Henry could pay huge dividends for the MLS down the line.