Thierry Henry today announced that his time with the New York Red Bulls is at an end. This isn't really a shock as his contract with the club was up at the end of this season, and at the age of 37, he probably couldn't afford to take much more punishment in a physically tough league like MLS. There's still a few unanswered questions though.
The most important question; is Henry retiring? His post did not make it seem like this was the end for him as he stated that he's going to take a few weeks and reflect.
I will now take the next few weeks to reflect and decide on the next chapter of my career.
Additionally, and this is just purely speculation, maybe Henry is eying another a last run with Arsenal, which everyone knows holds a special place in his heart. There's three tweets in particular that kind of allude to that. The first two are from Franco Panzio, who is the Red Bull beat writer for MLSSoccer.com.
Could be wrong, but I've had feeling since returning from covering World Cup that Henry would return to Arsenal for his proper goodbye #RBNY— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) December 1, 2014
Way he gushed over Arsenal & vice versa during rare stateside appearance for the Gunners - a dead giveaway he was leaving - reason for that.— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) December 1, 2014
The second is from Syd F. who took an interesting screenshot of Henry's Facebook timeline. When I went to look to his page, the banner image is clearly about how he feels about Arsenal.
Actions speak louder than words they say. #ThanksTH14 #RBNY #MLS #AFC pic.twitter.com/iqt36iqUXF— Syd F. (@Solambey) December 1, 2014
The rest of the questions fall on the team. First, what is the team's strategy in the Expansion Draft? Since Henry hasn't officially announced his retirement, he would still need to be protected for the Red Bulls to retain his rights. Presumably, he could be left unprotected since he won't be coming back, but that leads to another question. When does a MLS contract actually end? If the contract end bleeds into the transfer windows, then protecting him could help the Red Bulls maintain any possible transfer fee. This is probably unlikely but as MLS isn't very transparent about contracts, we don't know the specifics.
For 2015 and on, the question is, what is the Red Bulls' plan to replace him? It'll be hard to find anybody of skill level in their prime overseas that wants to come to MLS. Developing young talent is always an option, but can they afford to go that route at the moment for his replacement? Maybe there's someone inside of MLS they could trade for (Michael Bradley)? Petke has stated that solid plans are not in place, but hopefully replacing Henry is a part that already is.
UPDATE: In talking to other SB Nation writers, it seems that the typical end date of MLS contracts end on December 31. Therefore, the Red Bulls won't have to worry about protecting Henry due to transfer fees since no one, except for Kenya & Ethiopia, have transfer windows that cover December.