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Thierry Henry Reportedly Set to Leave New York Red Bulls

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2014

HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 16:  Thierry Henry #14 of New York Red Bulls looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena on April 16, 2014 in Harrison, New Jersey. Red Bulls defeated the Union 2-1.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Thierry Henry is being tipped to leave the New York Red Bulls at the end of 2014 but could look beyond the lure of retirement if his MLS exit is confirmed.

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated provided information that suggests Henry is coming toward the end of his four-year spell with the NY-based club:

Red Bull soccer boss Gerard Houllier hinted at things over the summer when he said that he didn't think Henry would extend with New York, and a source with knowledge of Red Bull’s plans now tells SI.com there is "zero chance" that Henry will sign an extension. (That doesn’t necessarily mean that Henry will retire, however.)

Wahl also indicates that Red Bull's willingness to be involved in the club is beginning to disappear due to the dwindling global profits of the team. "Don't look for Red Bull to be involved in MLS in the long-term future," Wahl writes, per SI.

Franco Panizo, writer for MLSsoccer.com, tweeted a statement from Red Bull in response to Wahl's report:

Franco Panizo @FrancoPanizo

Red Bulls issue statement in response to today's http://t.co/HTgL0d6Ov0 report. #RBNY http://t.co/6aMss1MWRO

Henry's exit would likely halt the interest of many onlookers and could see the side's profits deplete. His shirt sales in MLS were second only to David Beckham in 2012, and he remains a major draw for both American and European audiences.

The Frenchman made the move to New York at the right time and has managed to prolong his career by joining a division that is less intense than Europe's best. He remains a classy finisher, extremely assured with his own ability, and the type of player who can pop up with something special at any time.

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Thierry Henry #14 of the New York Red Bulls checks on David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy after Beckham was shaken up in their Western Conference Semifinal at The Home Depot Center on November 3, 2011 in Carson, Californ
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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His loan return to Arsenal in 2012 highlighted the hubbub that still surrounds Henry when he heads back to England, suggesting the Red Bulls will struggle to find a bigger star. Their potential rivals, New York City FC, have Frank Lampard and David Villa waiting on the books, meaning interest could turn to the Manchester City-affiliated club when it begins competitive play.

LA Galaxy legend Landon Donovan highlighted the importance of Henry, per the Red Bulls' Twitter feed:

New York Red Bulls @NewYorkRedBulls

"Everything he touches turns to gold." @landondonovan praises @ThierryHenry: http://t.co/K3miKMd974 #LAvNY http://t.co/SX4sFyj8wg

Tim Cahill would remain the one true Red Bulls star if Henry left should we judge on appeal outside of the MLS. Even prolific striker Bradley Wright-Phillips isn't particularly well remembered in England, struggling to make it in the Premier League and eventually going on to enjoy his best spells with Plymouth, Charlton and Brentford further down the football league structure.

Letting Henry leave without a fight could quietly mark an end to the Red Bulls era, especially as Wahl notes the club and stadium would be sold "within 48 hours" if $300 million was offered. Should Red Bull decide to cash in, major questions will be asked over the club's long-term prospects, especially if Henry departs and NYCFC find some early success.

ADOLFO LEE/Associated Press

Earlier this year, the 37-year-old admitted that he would like to become Arsenal manager one day. His profile is so defined at the Emirates that he could walk into the job once Arsene Wenger moves on, so the striker's potential decision to depart Red Bulls could yield him a non-playing role in England.

It would be a smart way to ease Henry into the duties of coaching—much like we've seen with Ryan Giggs at Manchester United—and his reappearance in north London could provide the entire Arsenal squad with a morale boost.

Things appear to be bubbling under at the Red Bull Arena right now. The side is mid-table in the Eastern Conference and has lost momentum after winning the division last year. Henry's rumoured departure could act as a catalyst for the foundations to crumble and may see New York dominated by light blue quicker than expected.

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