Henry, Beckham, Larsson & Donovan – Loan Stars Provide Vital Cover To Premiership Squads

By on January 7, 2012

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Thierry Henry has sealed a sensational two-month loan return to the Premier League. As the American season has come to a close, the Frenchman will rejoin former club Arsenal from the MLS side New York Red Bulls.

However, recent years have seen an increase in household names securing two month loan periods in the twilight of their careers and MLS stars wishing to gain exposure and maintain fitness. As Henry’s return divides opinion between Arsenal fans and former players alike, is this arrangement something the Premier League will see more of and, ultimately, is it a good thing?

Sir Alex Ferguson first pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat back in 2007 when he sought attacking cover in the form of Swede Henrik Larsson on a two month loan. His input was pivotal to Manchester United’s title drive and the club petitioned for special dispensation to grant Larsson a Premier League medal as recognition.

Recently, however, a rising trend is developing for Premier League clubs to secure the short-term services of experienced players plying their trade Stateside in the American close season.

In 2009, Los Angeles Galaxy and USA midfielder Landon Donovan embarked on a similar loan with Everton. His Evertonian career was so successful that Donovan not only earned himself the club’s ‘Player of the Month’ award in his first month but also a second spell on Merseyside this January.

Fellow Galaxy star David Beckham was also reportedly on the verge of a similar deal to join Tottenham Hotspur last year only for the deal to be scuppered by insurance clauses with his American parent club.

Arsenal’s lack of squad experience has often been cited as the reason their trophy cabinet has endured a recent barren spell. The return of a player of Henry’s stature will undoubtedly prove valuable to Wenger’s latest crop of young guns, bringing a wealth of knowledge not only about the Premier League, but of the club itself.

The Frenchman was recently immortalised in statue form outside the Emirates with 174 Premier League goals and the club’s all time goalscoring record to his name.

With the Africa Cup of Nations robbing Wenger of two striking options, Henry’s return could well be a masterstroke in the Londoners’ push back towards the upper echelons of the league. Striking up his former partnership with a notably more consistent and mature Robin Van Persie can only further his God-like status among the Arsenal faithful.

Indeed, Wenger has reiterated his anticipation of Henry’s influence in an interview with BBC Sport, saying: “In training he is still exceptional class and he might surprise a few people.”

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter has previously stated that he wishes for the Africa Cup of Nations to be held during the Premier League close season by 2016. However, with an increase in African Premier League players, similar short term loans will provide the perfect fit for stretched squads keen on proven players and rising MLS stars.

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