Thierry Henry can still turn on the style, insists Arsene Wenger
Thierry Henry is back. And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger knew from day one that his former striker still has something to offer the club.
Henry (34) will sign a two-month loan deal, which will begin on Monday, pending insurance agreements with his parent club New York Red Bulls.
Henry returned to Arsenal on November 17 to maintain his fitness during the Major League Soccer off-season and Wenger claims he knew straight away that his former captain could be the answer to the club's problem of losing Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho to the African Cup of Nations next month.
The return of Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer - who netted 226 goals in 369 appearances and helped the club win the Premier League twice and FA Cup three times - four-and-a-half years after he left for Barcelona will no doubt send fans with a propensity for romance into ecstasy.
Henry is one of only three people in the 125 years of Arsenal's existence who have been immortalised by a bronze statue outside the Emirates Stadium.
But for Wenger, the decision was practical. "We need a short-term solution," he said. "Thierry 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.
"I knew on the first day he trained with us. I met him when he was 17-years-old. 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."
Henry is the third old boy in as many seasons to return to the club, following Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann. Then, Wenger admitted, he was signing players for their influence in the dressing-room as much as for what they could add on the pitch.
"I've done it with players who have a special attitude, special weight in the dressing-room," Wenger added. "I've done it at periods when experience can play a big part in the dressing-room - from January to March.
"Now I do it for footballing reasons because I need a striker for two months and I don't have one at the moment."