With Thierry Henry’s retirement having been big news this week, the eyes of many have shifted towards Arsenal, who have, in truth, never truly replaced the Frenchman. In his time in the Premier League, the former Les Bleus ace captured the imaginations of fans from north London and further afield in a way few players have, and the Gunners’ have, naturally, struggled since his exit. Robin van Persie briefly filled his boots, but his sale to Man United once again left the Emirates Stadium without a talisman.
So it’s about time he was replaced long-term, right? It won’t be an easy task for Arsene Wenger, but here are FIVE options…
Some dubbed Danny Welbeck the ‘new Thierry Henry’ upon his summer arrival, which raised more than a few eyebrows from fans outside of the Emirates Stadium. There’s no doubting that ‘Welbz’ is a decent player, but surely he’s not in the realms of the Gunners hero yet? While that may be true, there are some glimmers that suggest he may have a few things in common with the north London hero…
For a start, Welbeck is adept on the wing, and is known for his ability to cut inside to link with his strike team-mates. Henry made his name as a striker, but during his days at Monaco and Juventus, the recently retired ace actually plied his trade on the flanks. It’s been an opposite move for Welbeck during his career, but their similarities in terms of positioning show that they do have some things in common.
One of a few players in recent years to be dubbed the ‘new Henry’, Martial has been earning rave reviews in French football. Like Thierry, the 19-year-old’s career has really blossomed at Monaco, where he has been one of the Russian-backed side’s key men, despite the presence of highly paid stars.
Adept from a wide role, but more comfortable as the focal point of the attack, Martial is not dissimilar to Henry, with his electric pace and admirable technique having been enough to draw comparisons. A bit on the raw side, the teenager still has time to improve, and Arsenal may use their impending Champions League clashes with Monaco to have a closer look at the youngster.
Okay, Sanchez’s style is very different to that of Henry’s, but the Chilean could fill the Frenchman’s boots at the Emirates Stadium in terms of influence and talismanic status. The ex-Barcelona man has been a staggering success since his summer arrival, smashing 13 goals in all competitions to become the Gunners’ undisputed main man – you only have to browse Twitter on a match day to see the ‘one man team’ jibes.
Players willing to shoulder the responsibility and able to win games on their own are rare, and in Sanchez, Arsenal have the first man since Robin van Persie – who was the first since Henry – able to lead the team by example.
Granted, this one’s more than a little left-field. Manneh was last year compered to Thierry Henry after bursting onto the American soccer scene, and has since remained a player in the big clubs’ radars. Arsenal were one of the sides watching the 19-year-old, who is the MLS’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer.
Blistering pace, strength and a decent touch have led to the likenesses with Henry being talked about, even if the Gambian is unproven outside of North America, which is a region criticised for a lack of top level football.
Having raised his head above the parapet that is the Arsenal youth ranks, Gnabry is one of the Gunners’ most highly-rated emerging players. Like Henry, the German starlet has started his career on the wing, but has shown an adeptness in front of goal.
It may be a bit early for the teenager to step into a central berth, but with wide players being used in central roles now a trend, Gnabry could get a chance before too long.