So there you have it: the seemingly irreplaceable now needs replacing. Eight years and more than 220 goals later, Arsenal’s all-time top scorer and arguably our finest ever striker has left.
I suppose this day was always going to come at some point – and in all honesty it feels like it’s been coming for about 18 months – but it doesn’t soften the blow.
Some people will chide him for courting Barcelona and for being too vocal about Dein’s departure, others for his uncaptainlike strops, and more still may take him to task on his occasional selfish play.
Me, I’d just like to remember the positives. Thierry Henry is one of the best strikers in Europe, and was supreme for us in all but the last of his eight seasons. He was a complete one-off if you ask me, which is why he will be tough to replace.
I hope he is remembered for those things, and not the messy last two months. He deserves to be packed off with our thanks and he deserves the kind of reception Vieira now gets when he comes back. Player loyalty these days is hard to gauge, but there are few overseas players who stay eight years somewhere, so if you ask me, he’s been about as loyal to the club as any modern footballer can be.
“I will miss the Arsenal fans dearly,” he says in this morning’s current bun, “they have supported me through thick and thin”.
They will always be in my heart, as will all the fans who make the game here so special. I will always have a special bond with Arsenal Football Club.”
Now to move on – the Henry chapter is closed.
Before we do though, the club needs to haul the arsenal.com editor in for a Saturday shift. Tel is plastered all over the site, even modelling the new white (to signify our surrender) strip on the homepage, and on his profile page he tells us “This is my last contract, this is where I belong”.
“According to Arsène Wenger,” it goes on, “Thierry is approaching his peak. The good news is that he will enjoy those golden years at Emirates Stadium.”
Pah. And bah.
The trouble is, the club is arguably losing the PR battle to assuage the fans that all will be well. We’re down to two strikers (and Walcott, though whether he ends up a striker or not we shall see).
So we need some quality strengthening and we need it soon. With £16m from this sale (to be paid immediately, apparently), a further possible £10m for Reyes and £2m from Aliodear, we have £28m without blinking or even opening the club’s coffers. There’s money to be spent.
So who will it be incoming? Not Eto’o it seems, but that always seemed far-fetched if you ask me.
The Times this morning reckons it might herald the return of Le Sulk for £10m. His nature and history aside, he’s probably as near to a ready-made replacement as there is.
In other news – it’s a London bus day – there’s some follow-up from the Hill-Wood/Kroenke peace summit in this morning’s Grauniad. A ‘source’ apparently says Kroenke would not use “gearing”, that’s to say he would not borrow heavily and place that debt against the club, and if that were true then it is welcome news. However, with all that’s going on off the pitch at the moment, I’d be wary about believing anything that’s said at the moment. He also offered, apparently, to fund a spending spree. Again, a welcome move for some, but for others nothing more than an attempt to curry favour with Arsenal fans. We’re going to have to sit tight on this matter.
What a day that was. I’m knackered already.