Backe: Henry will play as a striker

Red Bulls coach lays out his positional plans for his new gem

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — All season long, New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe has been lamenting the fact that he lacks a striker with pace. In his first year with the club, Backe has said repeatedly that he envisions former Colombian international Juan Pablo Angel as a “box-player”—someone who is most effective inside the penalty area. Many times this year, Angel has been forced to drop back into the midfield to receive the ball.

Well, sometimes you get what you want.

With the news of Thierry Henry’s signing, Backe now has a player who can partner up top with Angel and provide potentially the most dynamic one-two punch in league history. The former Arsenal and Barcelona striker will officially be unveiled as a New York Red Bull on Thursday, but Backe already has plans for his newest acquisitions.

WATCH: Henry Highlights

“He will play as the highest striker," Backe said. "And we know he’s very, very mobile. That means he would probably be on both the left- and right-hand sides. That’s one of his favorite positions to start the attacking game, but he will definitely play as a striker.”

Henry is just a season removed from a year when he won the La Liga title and the Champions League, scoring 19 goals in the process. Backe likes the way the player can fit into the team’s 4-4-2 formation, allowing Henry to play off Angel. With some good service, Henry can be effective in the final third in finishing chances, something the Red Bulls have struggled with over the course of the season.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to get an absolutely top-class player, still only 32, winning everything you can imagine,” Backe said. “Being captain for Arsenal and [the] French National Team, the character and personality he has is outstanding.”

Henry is set to debut for the Red Bulls on Thursday, July 22, in a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays New York Challenge.

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Backe had a phone conversation with the world-class striker on Wednesday and is looking forward to having him in training as soon as possible.

“We had a chat about our playing style, the way we train and we talked about some former clubs he’s been involved in,” Backe said. “He’s really keen to start training, not just doing commercials and things like that—he’d like to get in the team and training as quickly as possible. I have gotten so many good reports about him from every country and every club, that he is a very competitive player and he wants to win.”