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Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm gobsmacked

Thierry Henry is leaving Arsenal for Barcelona.

Stupid git.

You may think that's a rather cruel and thankless thing to say about the player who has been Arsenal's best player of all time. To be sure, I'm thankful for the time the Gunners have had the amazing Mr. Henry prowling the pitch at Highbury and Ashburton Grove, the 2 league titles, 3 FA Cups, and Champions League Finalist run (losing to the aforementioned club from Catalonia) and all the fantastic goals he's scored.

However, I don't think he realises that he's no longer going to be the focus of the team he's on. Barca are Ronaldinho's team. He's their undisputed leader, so much so that when he and Samuel Eto'o had a bit of a row earlier in the year, it was Eto'o's name that was immmediately floated out on the transfer rumour mill. Henry's going to be one of 4 highly regarded attacking players (Ronaldinho, Eto'o, and Messi being the others) and given how he occasionally struggled in the French side with the focus being on Zidane, I'm not sure he won't chafe a bit at being the number 2 man at Barca.

On top of that, he gave as his reason the departure of David Dein, Arsenal's longtime Vice-Chairman. Dein was forced out after some disagreements about a takeover bid by American billionaire Stan Kronke. The rest of the board were against the bid, and Dein was for it. Well, as it turns out, Chairman Peter Hill-Wood and Managing Director Keith Edelman met with Kronke a few days a go and said that they could work with him. You'd think such a pronouncement might open the door for Dein's return, especially considering that he remains a prominent shareholder in the club.

So, Thierry's rationale and explanations ring flat as a Cristiano Ronaldo dive.

He's a great player, and all Arsenal fans, including this one, will dearly miss him and wish him well personally (just don't expect me to pull for Barca, the filching blaggards), but his leaving now will only hurt the club he professes to love. I also predict that Barcelona will struggle to find enough time and touches for all four of their offensive stars. Like the "Galacticos" of Real Madrid, I rather expect they will underperform instead of taking La Liga by storm.

Even more troubling is that Henry suggested that his leaving was prompted by Arsene Wenger's refusal to commit past next season. Arsenal cannot afford to lose "The Professor." He alone, amonst all the club, is irreplacable.

At least the U.S. won the Gold Cup today. Benny Feilhaber's winning volley was world-class, as cracking a shot as I've seen from someone in the red, white, and blue. Now, if only England can turn around their fortunes in European Championship qualifying.

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