Arsene Wenger has insisted that there is no downside to his decision to re-sign Thierry Henry on a two-month loan from the New York Red Bulls.
Henry has been training at Arsenal during the MLS close season and Wenger said that he knew after the striker’s first session that he could still contribute at Premier League level.
“I have done this for footballing reasons because I need a striker for two months and I don’t have one at the moment,” Wenger said, with a nod towards the looming departures of Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho for the Africa Cup of Nations. “Thierry’s value is on the pitch. I felt that at the World Cup [in 2010], when he came on for France against South Africa, he gave something to the team. He has something. He knows where to be. He knows how to give a problem to the opponent. You never lose that.
“He has the quality and capacity to help us out. You do not find players on the planet of this quality who are available for two months. There are no risks. I met Thierry when he was 17 [at Monaco] and I had him here at 22 so I know every movement that he can make. He is a super-intelligent guy and he is a special talent.”
The 34-year-old Henry is a different player to the one who terrorised Premier League defences for eight seasons from 1999, having lost most but not all of his pace. Wenger said that he could play him up front, on either flank or even behind the striker, and he suggested that his role would most likely be as an impact substitute.
“He and I are conscious that he is 34,” Wenger said, on the issue of Henry’s pace. “But he has not lost his class or brain. He is here to help, nothing else. When we need him, he will come on.” —