AMSTERDAM – Thierry Henry's move to the New York Red Bulls and Major League Soccer is naturally drawing plenty of fanfare in America, but the transfer is also drawing reaction in Europe.
As we like to do from time to time, we hurled a couple of questions at scribes across the sea to take the pulse in places with ties to the superstar striker.
Again, we kept things simple: 1) What is the general reaction to Henry's Barcelona exit for an American adventure in your country, and 2) What kind of impact do you foresee from him, both on the field and with soccer's pull in the United States?
ENGLAND: Gabriele Marcotti (The Times, SI.com, UEFA Champions Magazine)
There is no question that you're talking about, in terms of technical ability, one of the better players in the world. He's probably going to have to change the way he plays a little. He's not going to be relying on the speed, but folks forget he's a very technically gifted player, with a tremendous eye for a goal and a tremendous sense of creativity.
But I also think at Barcelona, he showed he could be a team player, adapting to the wide role. A lot of people in England scoff that he was a player Arsenal had unloaded at the right price, like they did with Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars or Emmanuel Petit. In fact, I think Barcelona would tell you they got their money's worth.
I think it's hard to predict about his impact on growing the sport in America. The question is, can he appeal to people outside the soccer fan base? To be honest, I think he can. He's not as big a name as David Beckham with the public, but the thing about Beckham is he's not a highlight-type player like Ronaldinho is. So if you're looking for the guy who can come up with the smart quote or a piece of skill that gets him on SportsCenter, then certainly, Henry can do that much more than Beckham.
He scores more goals, he's an engaging, intelligent, funny guy. You can get Thierry Henry talking on anything from race to his mom's cooking to the neighborhood he grew up in. He's a really bright guy, so I think from a marketing perspective, he's got more staying power than Beckham. Henry may not be as pretty to look at, but he's a better talker, a better scorer and a more exciting player to watch.
FRANCE: Hervé Dacquet (Le Parisien)
It was no surprise that he would finish in New York, but right now, there's not a lot of reaction. After the World Cup, in France, we had one interview with Thierry Henry about the crash in South Africa and no more news about his future. Then we find out news from the web, from New York, with him signing. It was no surprise. We knew that Barcelona didn't want to keep him this year, so for him, it's a form of new challenge.
I guess it will be a good impact. We've seen that with Beckham, for example. He wants to be part of the history of the club and to prove it's not done yet for him. I think it will be good for him and for the championship over there.
SPAIN: Paco Roche (Marca)
Henry's goodbye to Barcelona has not been a surprise in Spain. As a matter of fact, it was quite clear form about halfway of last season that he would not continue, and the MLS seemed to be his destination from the beginning.
The thing is that Barcelona's game is not the best for him. I think he needs big gaps, long balls to take advantage of his pace – a sort of British team that plays counterattack football.
How will he do in the US? I'm not very sure. I don't know how the Red Bulls play, so I can't go much further than that. In any case, he is a very experienced player that has won every possible tournament, so I can imagine that he can be a good influence for younger players. I think you can not compare him with Beckham. Actually, I don't think anyone can compare with Beckham and the impact he has on the media. As I said at the beginning, Henry is very respected in Europe because of his game. If he is in good form, he can be more important on the pitch than Beckham.