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Kick Off, Thierry Henry, David Beckham
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Kick Off: Henry loan to Arsenal "certainly" to happen

Obviously, nothing is ever certain. And then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger comes right out and says that a two-month loan for New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry “certainly will happen.” Hmm ... If history is any judge, the only thing certain is that this story just got much more interesting.

People on both sides of the pond have been speculating who first floated the idea of the Henry-to-Arsenal loan. On Friday, Wenger cleared that up.

What isn’t clear, at least for folks in London, is whether Henry is up to the challenge of filling in for Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh when they’re on international duty at the African Cup of Nations. This report claims he hasn’t looked out of place in training.

Wenger’s counterpart at Tottenham, Harry Redknapp, is right impressed with Arsenal’s move to sign Henry. He tried and failed at a similar move last year for LA Galaxy star David Beckham. In fact, it seems he’s still interested in Becks.

Speaking of Beckham. While the Henry loan dominates the front pages across England, Beckham and Paris-St. Germain own the French headlines. Today, Italian Carlo Ancelotti is to be unveiled as PSG’s new manager. Ancelotti was the manager at AC Milan when Beckham was there on loan in 2009.

Next up for PSG and their deep-pocketed Qatari owners is supposedly the announcement of the Beckham deal, which is reported to be worth about €10 million a year ($12.9 million). That number has raised eyebrows around the world, including in the French parliament.

And in the meantime, Beckham’s representatives put out a statement, admitting there has been an offer from PSG, but “there is no agreement with PSG at this time.”

It looks like an agreement is in place for Bolton defender Gary Cahill to join Chelsea. Rumor has it that move opens the way for Bolton to make a multimillion-dollar offer for New York Red Bulls centerback Tim Ream, who earned glowing praise from Bolton manager Owen Coyle during a recent training stint.

While a defender might be leaving MLS, a striker could be on the way. Former German international Gerald Asamoah, who spent 11 years at Schalke but has been out of contract since July, is leaving Germany to play in MLS. Or so he says.

No doubt about where former University of Virginia goalkeeper Diego Restrepo will be next year. The 23-year-old has left relegated Colombian side América de Cali to join a powerhouse in Venezuela.

Restrepo, who was born in Venezuela and raised in Colombia and the US, could represent any of the three nations. In the wake of ex-US youth international Preston Zimmerman’s recent Twitter tirade against Jurgen Klinsmann’s not using so-called “real Americans,” one has to wonder where a guy like Restrepo falls on Zimmerman’s spectrum of Americanism. 

Maybe, though, Zimmerman was tapping into the footballing Zeitgeist with his comments. On Friday, England manager Fabio Capello weighed in, calling on nations to stop “stealing” players from other nations.

These players weren't stolen, that's for sure. They all signed contracts. The Generation adidas players and several seniors with contracts were announced on Thursday.

Contracts are at the heart of the latest controversy to slam FIFA. Ousted FIFA vice president Jack Warner claims he got the TV rights to the World Cup for $1, in exchange for helping Sepp Blatter win the FIFA presidency in the late ’90s.

Sadly, no real controversies among veteran soccer writer Brian Straus’ year-end awards, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

Wells Thompson didn’t make it into anyone’s year-end awards in 2011, but the Colorado Rapids midfielder is making a name for himself in his hometown by putting on his first overnight camp. See what other MLSers are going to be in attendance.

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