Henry signs 'multi-year' deal with New York


THE NEW York Red Bulls have signed Thierry Henry from Barcelona on a “multi-year contract”, the Major League Soccer club have confirmed.

The 32-year-old former Arsenal captain moved to the Nou Camp in 2007 and had one year remaining on his contract, but the club agreed last month that he could leave.

He is expected to make his debut in a July 22nd friendly against Tottenham Hotspur at Red Bull Arena.

The France international will join David Beckham and former Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg among the league’s “designated players” who have most of their salary paid outside of their teams salary cap.

The Red Bulls have recently moved into a new, purpose-built stadium in New Jersey but have yet to win an MLS title and are pinning their hopes on Henry.

Thierry is not only a world-class player who will undoubtedly improve our squad, but he has shown most importantly throughout his career that he is a winner, Red Bulls general manager Erik Soler said.

Henry started out at Monaco and Juventus before spending eight successful seasons with Arsenal, helping the London club to win two English Premier League titles and three FA Cups.

A World Cup winner with France in 1998, he joined Barcelona in 2007 and was the team’s top scorer in his first season but he has had a difficult last 12 months, struggling to cement a regular first-team spot because of injuries.

Henry almost quit international football after he was heavily criticised for his handball that allowed France to qualify for the World Cup ahead of the Republic of Ireland.

He stayed on to be part of the French team that failed to progress past the pool stage in South Africa after highly-publicised internal squabbling.

Meanwhile, Barca have taken out a €155 million loan to ease their financial problems.

The loan, announced last week but signed yesterday, will be lent jointly by a host of banks, led by La Caixa and Banco Santander.

“The operation forms part of a new strategic plan devised by the new board, presided over by Sandro Rosell,” read a club statement.

Rosell revealed last week that the Catalan outfit had been unable to honour player wages at the end of June and said the sale of defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy was required to prop up the club’s coffers.

Rosell nevertheless claimed the club had €50 million available for transfers, which he said would rise to €89 million following the sales of Chygrynskiy and Yaya Toure, who signed recently for Manchester City.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has signed a new contract to remain at the club for at least one more season following a meeting with Rosell.

Guardiola verbally agreed the deal with former Barcelona president Joan Laporta back in January but Rosell had hoped to tie the coach down on a long-term agreement.

The 39-year-old has remained true to his word however and put pen to paper on a new deal which will keep him at the Nou Camp until June 30th next year.

Barca’s website described the coach’s new contract as “the most long-awaited piece of news” of the summer, and the club will now concentrate their efforts on strengthening the first team for next season.

Striker David Villa has already signed from Valencia, but the Catalans also hope to bring in their former youth team midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal.

The Gunners have already turned down a €35 million bid for their captain but the Spanish giants are expected to return with an improved offer in the coming days.

The Republic of Ireland have risen five places to 36th in the latest Fifa world rankings.

World and European champions Spain remain at the top the rankings ahead of the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Uruguay.

England have moved up one place to seventh, while Northern Ireland have dropped three places to 59th.

Scotland are up two spots to 41st.