Thursday 01 March 2012

How did the MLS loan stars fare in England?

Henry, Keane and Donovan renewed their love affairs with English football

Thierry Henry celebrates after scoring for Arsenal during his spell back in England

During January and February, three footballers came back to the Barclays Premier League to show their class and inspire their teams to greater heights.

Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan all took advantage of the Major League Soccer off season in the US to come to England for short-term loan spells, and all three were deemed to be a roaring success.

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry enhanced his status as an icon at the club, Landon Donovan enjoyed his second high-class cameo at Everton and Robbie Keane gave Aston Villa a much-needed injection of quality up front.

Keane's appearance in Villa's 0-0 draw at Wigan on Saturday marked the end of the MLS invasion into the Barclays Premier League for the time being, so here's a look at how the trio fared:

THIERRY HENRY

2011/12 Barclays Premier League record
Appearances: Four
15 Jan: Lost 3-2 v Swansea; played 27 minutes
1 Feb: Drew 0-0 v Bolton; played 21 minutes
4 Feb: Won 7-1 v Blackburn; played 22 minutes, scored seventh
11 Feb: Won 2-1 v Sunderland; played 24 minutes, scored late winner
Did you know? Henry won the Golden Boot for Premier League top scorer a record four times - 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06.

What they said

The player: Thierry Henry
"When it comes to Arsenal, I always feel something special - once a Gunner, always a Gunner. You can never say never about coming back. If they need some help one day, I will be around."

"When it comes to Arsenal, I always feel something special"
- Thierry Henry

His manager: Arsene Wenger
"On the pitch he was great and off the pitch he was great. He always maintained hope and positive morale in the team and I would like to thank him for that and wish him well for the rest of the season. He has had a fantastic impact on us, there is no doubt about that."

His team-mate: Robin van Persie
"Thierry is very demanding, but that's a good thing. Great players have that. His basic level is so high that some other players are struggling to come to his basic level, which is hard because he's so good. He expects everyone to be at that level.”

ROBBIE KEANE

2011/12 Barclays Premier League record
Appearances: Six
14 Jan: Drew 1-1 v Everton; played nine minutes
21 Jan: Won 3-2 v Wolves; played 89 minutes, scored twice
1 Feb: Drew 2-2 v QPR; played 90 minutes
5 Feb: Lost 2-1 v Newcastle; played 90 minutes, scored
12 Feb: Lost 1-0 v Man City; played 90 minutes
25 Feb: Drew 0-0 v Wigan; played 90 minutes
Did you know? Keane has scored 126 goals in the Premier League, making him its 11th all-time leading marksman.

What they said

The player: Robbie Keane
"I enjoyed my spell at Villa, it's a great club. There's been talk about me staying on but, at the end of the day, Galaxy are my parent club and, first and foremost, I have to respect them. I could have stayed in the Premier League for a few more years but I didn't."

"If Robbie wanted to come back, we'd be interested"
- Alex McLeish

His manager: Alex McLeish
"I don't think there's any doubt he has had an impact, despite his short spell here. His movement on the pitch has inspired a few of the youngsters. He's checking, he's spinning, he's playing a one-two... If he wanted to come back to the Premier League I'd like to think we'd be interested."

His team-mate: Marc Albrighton
"The young boys look up to him and know they can learn from him. To be training with a player with the wealth of experience like Keano is just brilliant. He's not only a great person to play with he's also a nice guy to have around the place too."

LANDON DONOVAN

2011/12 Barclays Premier League record
Appearances: Seven
4 Jan: Lost 2-1 v Bolton; played 90 minutes
11 Jan: Lost 2-0 v Spurs; played 90 minutes
14 Jan: Drew 1-1 v Villa; played 90 minutes
21 Jan: Drew 1-1 v Blackburn; played 90 minutes
31 Jan: Won 1-0 v Man City; played 90 minutes
4 Feb: Drew 1-1 v Wigan; played 90 minutes
11 Feb: Won 2-0 v Chelsea; played 90 minutes
Did you know? Donovan was named Everton's Player of the Month for January - just as he was during his last loan spell two years ago.

What they said

The player: Landon Donovan
"There is something magical about this club that captures you the minute you step into Goodison - and it doesn't let you go. I'm very fortunate to play in a couple of places where I think I have the respect of the people. Forget the football side - as a person that feels good. I know I will be back in the future. I just don't know if it will be as a player, but I hope it is."

"If we could've had Landon for longer, we would have done"
- David Moyes

His manager: David Moyes
"If we could have had Landon for longer, we would have done. I wouldn't be asking, because LA Galaxy have been good enough to give us this time with him. I don't want to ruin that relationship. But we'll miss Landon, he's given us great balance on the right."

His team-mate: Phil Neville
"Last time he came here, he lit the place up. He was on a bit of a hiding to nothing coming back, but I think he's performed even better than last time. He was a breath of fresh air around the place, he immersed himself in the whole club - not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. We will miss him."

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Key Points

  • Henry, Keane and Donovan were on loan in England during MLS off-season
  • Trio starred for their clubs in Barclays Premier League
  • Henry & Keane both scored, while Donovan won January player award at Everton