Arsenal legend Thierry Henry could join the likes of former teammates Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires and Louis Saha in enthralling fans in India.
Arsenal's Thierry Henry celebrates his goal against Leeds United during their FA Cup match at the Emirates Stadium in London, January 9, 2012.
IMG-Reliance, the commercial partner of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), are in talks with the likes of Henry and former Manchester United and Liverpool striker Michael Owen to play in the inaugural edition of the IMG-Reliance league, which is set to kick off from January 2014.
The glitzy and glamorous football league is set to be named the Indian Super League, and according to a report in the Times of India, it could feature several former superstars of the English Premier League.
Legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is set to be one of the coaches for the franchised, which will be decided at an auction early next month, with Marcel Desailly also set to named as manager.
IMG-Reliance are determined to make the football tournament - which will be played in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Guwahati, Goa, Bangalore, Pune -- as big as possible, having signed a huge deal with AIFF.
The commercial partners are at loggerheads with I-League clubs, with the teams refusing to release their players, feeling the new league will put their futures at risk.
That means Sunil Chhetri and co. could miss out on the opening season of the IMG-Reliance league, which would be a pity, if players of the caliber of Henry, Pires and Owen are set to feature.
Henry is currently with the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer in the United States. The MLS offseason is during January-February, so Henry could potentially play in the Indian league.
The French striker has previously had loan spells in January with Arsenal to keep fit during the offseason, something that Robert Pires, an ambassador for the Premier League club, is currently doing.
The soon-to-be 40-year-old has been training at Arsenal and should be fit enough to parade his skills in India come January next year.
Saha recently ended his stint as a player in the Serie A after last season, but should also have enough fuel left to make an impression - the same can be said for Owen and Ljungberg.
IMG-Reliance has tied-up with the Star network to telecast the league live, and with another big broadcaster joining in, some big names are bound to be roped in.
Star already have the rights to the ever-popular English Premier League, as well as the La Liga and Serie A, and another major football tournament will only add to their portfolio in the sport.
"India is hungry for its second sport," Uday Shankar, Star CEO, was quoted as saying by the Times of India. "For far too long, the Indian sports fan has waited for this revolution. Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India. We want to put India on the global map."
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