Monday 27 March 2017

Once you've been adored should you ever go back?

There is comfort to be found in familiarity; it's what some in the US might call a 'known known'. Thierry Henry, now a sometime resident of New York, and Arsene Wenger know each other as well as any player and coach can.

It was Wenger who did so much to make Henry, and in return his compatriot did plenty to cement Wenger's standing at Arsenal, and the striker has now agreed a loan deal to pull on the shirt he has already worn 370 times.

Last Christmas Henry, who won two Premier League titles at Arsenal, spent time training with the club -- he still has a house in London -- during the Major League Soccer close season and that prompted a rash of reports that he was coming back to the Emirates.

This time around, with the over-reliance on Robin van Persie and the looming departure for the Africa Cup of Nations of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh, the move makes sense.

Wenger will be looking for the 34-year-old to at least make a similar impact to the one Henrik Larsson managed during a brief loan spell with Manchester United four years ago.

There was a weight of expectation on Larsson, who for all his prolific scoring in Scotland and elsewhere had to dispel doubters south of the border, but for Henry it will be all the greater because he is doing what many people say no one ever should: he is going back.

Returning to former stomping grounds is a well-trodden footballing path and one that actually has had led to many happy returns.

Jurgen Klinsmann

Henry will do well to match the return of a former foreign favourite on the other side of north London.

From the moment Klinsmann first puttered up Tottenham High Road in his VW Beetle he occupied a special place in the affections of the Spurs support.

After one happy season he moved on but two years later, in 1997, he came back on loan and scored the goals to get Spurs out of trouble, striking four times at Wimbledon in the season's penultimate game to guarantee their survival.

Verdict: * * * * *

Sol Campbell

The centre-half -- the only non-striker in our list -- was the first time Wenger went back for a player. Like Henry, it would seem the spark was rekindled as a result of winter training.

Campbell had bailed out of a disastrous spell at Notts County and his career at the top level seemed in terminal decline, but Wenger saw something and in January 2010 Campbell pulled on an Arsenal shirt again.

At the end of the season, after 14 games, he moved on, but his reputation remained intact.

Verdict: * *

Mark Hughes

The young Welshman was already a Manchester United favourite when Ron Atkinson let him join Terry Venables at Barcelona but his second spell at Old Trafford turned him into one of the club's modern greats.

Hughes spent one season in Spain and another with Bayern Munich before Alex Ferguson signed him.

He became a pivotal part of Alex Ferguson's first successful side with his bullish forward play and ability to score spectacular goals.

Verdict: * * * * *

Peter Beardsley

Six years separated Beardsley's two spells at Newcastle (strictly speaking there were three as the club released him as a junior), and in each his relationship with Kevin Keegan was key.

First they played alongside each other to help Newcastle back into the top flight, and after spells with Liverpool and Everton, Keegan, now Newcastle manager, brought his former striking partner home to form a potent new partnership with Andy Cole.

Verdict: * * * *

Ian Rush

Having won a European Cup, four league titles, an FA Cup and four League Cups while scoring 207 goals in 331 games, the Welshman was never going to match his first spell at Liverpool.

Yet his return, after a poor season at Juventus, still gave value for a then record £2.7m fee as another 139 goals followed.

Verdict: * * *

Juninho

The Brazilian was the surprise signing of that or any other season when he turned up on Teesside in 1995. Middlesborough went down, but Juninho's reputation went up, and he was welcomed back for two further spells at the club, the second of which saw them win the League Cup.

Verdict: * * *

Duncan Ferguson

The big, frequently angry Scot's record in his two spells at Everton reads: 133 games, 42 goals; and then 140 games, 31 goals.

Everton saw the best of him in his first four years at the club. When he returned he suffered injury problems but always remained an iconic figure.

Verdict: * *

Teddy Sheringham

When Sheringham left White Hart Lane the parting was not sweet as he accused the club of lacking ambition and headed for Old Trafford.

He was roundly booed on his subsequent returns but four years later Glenn Hoddle re-signed the striker and he was instrumental in helping them back to the upper echelons of the Premier League.

Verdict: * * *

Robbie Keane

The Dubliner enjoyed six rewarding years with Tottenham before Liverpool spent £20.3m on the striker. Six months later he was back in search of the form he had first shown at White Hart Lane. He never found it. (© Independent News Service)

Verdict: *

Irish Independent

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