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 By Tony Mabert

Thierry Henry quits, Qatar eyes Prem club, FIFA to publish World Cup report

This week's biggest news stories of the week saw a true great of the modern game bow out, Manchester United step closer to another big-money deal and FIFA and Qatar do yet more wonders for their respective reputations.

TOP 5 STORIES

1. Henry deserves a big hand (Tuesday, Dec. 16)

Thierry Henry calling time on his playing career was widely expected, and that allowed him the time to stage-manage his announcement perfectly. The striker picked what could be predicted as a quiet news day to make the dual announcement of hanging up his boots and also embarking on a full-time role as a television pundit. Coming a week after his association with New York Red Bulls officially ended, the delay allowed Henry's glorious eight years at Arsenal to be the main focus as the chance to look back upon his career was gleefully accepted by all. Also this week, Henry's former France and Barcelona teammate Eric Abidal announced his retirement, giving us an opportunity to remember his heroic effort in recovering to lift the Champions League trophy in 2011 just 2½ months after having a tumour removed from his liver.

THIERRY HENRY

Henry retires | Premier League Hero | Top moments

Clubs and goals: Total - 411 goals in 917 games
Monaco (28), Juventus (3), Arsenal (228), Barcelona (49), New York Red Bulls (52)

Internationals: France - 51 goals in 123 games

Trophies: Ligue 1 (1); Trophee des champions (1); Premier League (2); FA Cup (3); FA Community Shield (2); Spanish La Liga (2); Copa del Rey (1); Supercopa de España (1); UEFA Champions League (1); UEFA Super Cup (1); FIFA Club World Cup (1); MLS Supporters' Shield (1); MLS Eastern Conference (2); World Cup 1998; Euro 2000; Confederations Cup 2003.

2. Qatar eye festive spending spree (Wednesday, Dec. 17)

Seemingly as part of a public relations offensive ahead of FIFA's executive committee meeting, Qatar sports minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali gave an interview to the Associated Press. As part of the Q&A he casually let it be known that the Gulf state was interested in purchasing a Premier League club, that he himself would relish taking the reins and that he had a particular liking for Tottenham. Whether the most senior figure in sport of a country that will host the 2022 World Cup and the 2019 athletics world championship was aware that its current ownership of Paris Saint-Germain would represent a conflict should a Qatari-owned Premier League qualify for European competition is not clear. However, his grand claim did provide the cue for plenty of jokes about such a conflict not being an issue if he took charge at White Hart Lane.

3. Balotelli pays price for post (Thursday, Dec. 18)

Between his failure to yet register a Premier League for Liverpool embodying the club's current travails, swapping shirts at half-time and the recent storm created by a misguided post on social media, Balotelli has barely been out of the headlines since returning to England in the summer. The striker's recent injury and big wages mean the one-match ban and 25,000-pound fine handed him by the FA -- that he has accepted and for which he has apologised -- may not do too much damage, but it is yet another addition to a lengthy rap sheet that does little to endorse Liverpool's decision to sign him, and makes Daniel Sturridge's injury felt all the more.

4. Strootman top of United list for January sales (Thursday, Dec. 18)

After a testing start, Louis van Gaal finally appears to be making his mark at Manchester United as the Red Devils travel to Villa Park this weekend third in the table and on the back of six straight wins. While every one of his notable summer signings -- Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw -- have struggled with injuries this season, United fans can at least be reasonably optimistic that the club-record 150 million-pound outlay will prove to be well spent. So the news that Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman -- a long-term target for United and just the sort domineering midfielder the club has been missing -- could also join as early as January.

5. FIFA's unsatisfying self-policing (Friday, Dec. 19)

After all the controversy over FIFA only releasing a 42-page summary of Michael Garcia's 430-page report into alleged corruption in the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the governing body's executive committee agreed unanimously ("agreed," not "voted") to make the report itself public. And it only took the man who wrote it to resign after complaining his findings were misrepresented and two women who contributed to it anonymously to break cover for fear of reprisal to make it happen. Whenever the report is eventually made publicly available it will still be a redacted version, but even full disclosure at this point would not be anywhere near enough to make up for what has been another damaging week for FIFA's credibility.

MEANWHILE...

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