Thierry Henry has confirmed that subject to passing a medical on Monday he will sign a four year deal with Barcelona, reportedly worth £16 million.
While this is not entirely unexpected news, it is still sad to see him go. I had thought I’d be less affected by this, but when I heard the news on the radio this morning confirming his move, I suppose it really hit me what it meant. I think it’s not overstating things to say that this is the end of an era at Arsenal. It’s more than just the fact that he has been an outstanding player for Arsenal, the clubs leading scorer. It’s about the way Wenger has shaped his team and tactics around Henry and his pace. Wenger will now be forced to change this.
There have already been signs last season of this shift when Henry wasn’t fit, and Wenger has tried out different combinations. Adebayor, Baptista, Aliadiere, and van Persie have all stepped in, and the team have had to adjust. However, Baptista did not get a contract and has returned to Spain, while Aliadiere has moved to Middlesborough in his quest for regular first team football. This leaves things very thin up front, though Bendtner will be back from Birmingham, and he looks to be a good prospect.
But there’s the problem – there’s too many good prospects and not enough proven world-class players. With the sale of Henry, and hopefully a good deal for Reyes, Wenger should have enough cash to get hold of some “super, super” players. The team needs them. The fans need them. Another mediocre “transition” season will not be good enough, and could see the departure of Wenger at the end of it to top it all.
So, right now, things are not looking too bright. The only silver lining is that Wenger will now have more funds to chase the top-class players such as Torres and Tevez that the team needs.