A Tale of Two Loans

Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry are both going to England, but is that a good thing?
by Chris Enger   |   Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Donovan at Everton and Henry at Arsenal

It was the best of deals, it was the worst of deals…

Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry are both heading to England this offseason to play for Everton and Arsenal respectively, but is that a move in the right direction for them and their careers?

Depends on which player you’re talking about.

In Donovan’s case, it is definitely a move in the right direction. Landon is going back to Everton two years after his first successful loan at Merseyside.  During the first stint with the Toffees his game improved, he developed and he proved himself worthy of the title of America’s best soccer player.

What we saw during that first go-around was Donovan not having to depend on his speed to beat defenders but using his skill. That skillset will continue to grow and develop as he is still in his prime where he can still use his pace to beat defenders, while also learning additional skills that will aide him as he ages in MLS.

It is a winning situation for Everton as well as they’re currently lacking in playmakers after the transfer window closing last fall saw the loss of many of their creative engines.

In the case of Thierry Henry and his two month loan to his former club Arsenal, the move couldn’t be a worse idea.

I can understand that he wants to keep his form at a high level, but what else does he need to prove? He is retired from international play and he is earning a nice paycheck in New York. I fail to see why he would choose to go to the Gunners.

What if he fails to see the pitch or if he does and fails to show any of the skills that made him one of the world’s best in his heyday? What would that say about him? What would it say about MLS, considering Henry finished third in the 2011 golden boot rankings?

The opposite will be true if Henry does have a good loan with Arsenal but age and his lack of games with Barcelona before moving to New York leads me to believe otherwise.

When Beckham went on loan to AC Milan, he was still trying to keep his fitness at a high level in preparation for the upcoming World Cup. The end result, a fairly successful time with the Italian side that ended with a torn Achilles tendon causing him to miss most of the 2010 MLS season.

There are risks involved in playing abroad and MLS teams should be hesitant in loaning out their best players during and past their primes. If the player is young however, sure let them see what they can do in stronger leagues and hopefully grow as players, as the risk versus reward has more upside.

When the loaned player is a valuable Designated Player, maybe his time would be best served at home developing the younger players remaining behind.


Univ. of Utah
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KoS & SN Podcast co-host & self-proclaimed funniest man in Utah. Mormon by faith, Ute by geography, Gooner by accident & proud RSLer. Father of 4, husband of 1, brother of many. Bilingual by day, quasi superhero en la noche. There's only one "Fuegote".