MLS Should See Another European Infusion This Summer, Led By Thierry Henry

With most of the European leagues coming to a close, the annual game of international musical chairs is set to begin. Rumors are swirling about  where the likes of Fernando Torres or David Villa will end up during this offseason's transfer window. Much to the delight of MLS – and fans in New York and New Jersey, most specifically – one huge name is planning to venture stateside to finish his career. ↵

↵Brian Lewis of the New York Post is reporting that Thierry Henry will be leaving Barcelona this summer to come to MLS after the World Cup. ↵

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↵⇥European outlets are reporting that Thierry Henry has already negotiated his way out of Barcelona this summer, and will come to MLS after the World Cup. And former manager Arsene Wenger is telling the press his ex-Arsenal star and fellow Frenchman is bolting the Nou Camp for New York, not London. ↵⇥

↵⇥"I believe he will go to the United States at the end of the season. He will go certainly to the World Cup and after he will want to maybe cut a little bit of the immense pressure that is in Europe,'' Wenger told arsenal.com. ↵⇥

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↵Henry has a year left on his deal with Barca, but has fallen out of favor with the staff to the point where he didn't even dress in the team's win over Villarreal last weekend. There are rumors in the Daily Mail that Barca will dip into their never-ending coffers to acquire Villa from Valencia this summer. Such a move would make Henry completely expendable for the Spanish side. ↵

↵Of course, the big news for MLS would be the fact that yet another huge name in the international game has decided to play in America while his motor still has a few miles left on it. The fact that Henry isn't a featured player for Barca shouldn't dwindle his star power one bit for fans in the United States. Sure he's no longer the top striker in the world, and is clearly on the down side of his illustrious career, but he did have 26 goals and 12 assists in 42 matches for Barca in 2008-09 before a disappointing campaign this season. But look on the bright side…he should be well rested! ↵

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↵The biggest key, of course, for MLS is that they'll be getting yet another European star – to go along with the likes of David Beckham – who wants to come to America to grow their brand. From a PR standpoint, it looks far better for Henry to play in MLS to 'teach the young players' and 'help grow the game in America' than it would be to sign on with a middle of the pack Premiership team and struggle to stay relevant. Like with Beckham, there will be very little pressure for Henry to actually succeed on the pitch. Of course, his level of talent will far outweigh the bulk of the league that, even at 33 years old, he should have no problem filling up the net. ↵

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↵Henry may not be the only international player slated to join MLS this summer. Reports are that former Arsenal teammate and current Villarreal midfielder Robert Pires may also make the jump to America to play for the expansion Philadelphia Union. Per Soccernet: ↵

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↵⇥Philadelphia's interest was confirmed to the Daily News by the 36-year-old's American agent Memed Djemmal, although the club would have to have any new contract ratified by the MLS. ↵⇥

↵⇥"The league is definitely interested, there is currently a large number of teams on board and Philadelphia is one of them," Djemmal said. "We were first contacted by the team in February, and there has been back and forth since. It's a matter of the transfer window in July, but right now, I'd say it's 50-50 at this point. He's a big player and a lot of teams are interested." ↵⇥

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↵To think just a few weeks ago there were rumors the league might strike, and what the long-term ramifications would be for a work stoppage. Now there are rumors of Henry and others coming to bolster the growing pool of international talent in the league. These are the rumors MLS is happy to hear.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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