Thierry Henry: Salary cap keeps MLS behind Europe

Clubs can sign three DPs on top of the salary cap, a situation the former Arsenal and Barcelona player said puts MLS sides at a disadvantage.

LONDON  _ Thierry Henry says Major League Soccer will not attract players from Europe while they are at the peak of their careers as long as teams are forced to operate under a salary cap.

The former France striker joined New York Red Bulls last year from Barcelona but, like David Beckham, only switched to the United States when he was well into his 30s as a so-called Designated Player.

Clubs can sign three DPs on top of the salary cap, a situation the former Arsenal and Barcelona player said puts MLS sides at a disadvantage.

Henry said the imposition on MLS franchises is akin to telling European champion Barcelona that it would have to sell one of its Spanish World Cup winners before it could sign FIFA world player of the year Lionel Messi.

“How are you going to say to Barcelona, ‘if you get Messi, you’ve got to let (Andres) Iniesta go?” Henry asked. “That’s how it is in the U.S. That would never work in Europe.”

The salary cap encourages teams to develop their own local talent _ which may eventually make the U.S. national team a contender for honors _ but Henry said top international stars at the peak of their powers will never abandon the riches on offer in the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga.

“That can only happen if they stop that three DP thing and stop that salary cap,” Henry said. “If one day they’re willing to stop the salary cap and not having more than three DPs, then I can see it happening.”

But the 33-year-old Henry is enthusiastic about the atmosphere and standard of play in North America.

And after the furor around Europe that followed his handball assist for a goal that helped propel France to the World Cup ahead of Ireland, Henry said he is enjoying his relative anonymity.

“All I can tell you is I love it,” Henry said. “I’m not on the back page or the front page any more. I’m not in the third from the back, or the fourth from the back, or the fifth from the back, or the sixth from the back. Trust me, I don’t mind it after all the stuff you have in Europe.

“What a great thing: to not be on the back page of the newspaper any more. Trust me.”

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