Wenger: Henry will return in future
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Thierry Henry will "certainly" return to the club in some capacity in the future.
Henry confirmed on Monday that he will leave the New York Red Bulls after four-and-a-half years with the Major League Soccer franchise, prompting speculation that a return to Arsenal could be in the offing.
The Gunners' all-time record goal scorer has retained close links with the club since leaving for Barcelona in 2007 and trained at their Hertfordshire base before a brief loan spell during January 2012.
Henry had hinted during a recent interview with French newspaper L'Equipe he could be interested in a future coaching role with the Gunners, and Wenger insisted on Tuesday that Henry's return is a certainty when asked about a reunion with the former France striker.
"He is an Arsenal man. The best moment certainly of his life and of his career has been experienced here," Wenger said at a press conference ahead of Arsenal's Barclays Premier League encounter against Southampton on Wednesday.
"Certainly one day he will come back here. In what role I don't know, that is what he has to think about: what direction he wants to give to his next life."
Henry joined the Red Bulls in 2010 following a successful playing career in Europe, where he was an integral part of Arsenal's 'Invincibles' side and also went on to win the 2009 Champions League with Barcelona.
The 37-year-old, a member of Les Bleus' 1998 World Cup-winning squad, revealed he would now ''take the next few weeks to reflect'' before deciding on his next career move after the Red Bulls' MLS Cup campaign ended with a 4-3 aggregate defeat to rivals the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Championship play-off.
Monday's statement from Henry read: ''I am taking this opportunity to announce that unfortunately Saturday was my last game for the New York Red Bulls.
''The decision has always been that I would leave after the duration of my contract and although that was never going to change, I didn't want it to distract from the progress of the team.
''I have immensely enjoyed my four-and-a-half years here and would like to thank everyone involved with this club who has made my time here so enjoyable.
''Thanks must go particularly to Erik Soler, Hans Backe, Gerard Houllier, Andy Roxburgh, Mike Petke, all my team-mates, the technical staff, medical staff, all the personnel who work for the Red Bull organisation, the MLS and of course the owner Mr (Dietrich) Mateschitz, whose vision and passion brought me to this wonderful city.
''A special mention must go to the Red Bull fans who have supported this team through the good, the bad and the ugly times in the sun, rain and snow. You guys have really meant a lot to me and thank you for all your wonderful support.
''I will now take the next few weeks to reflect and decide on the next chapter of my career.''
Wenger feels Henry could make a successful transition into the dugout.
He said: "Thierry has all the qualities because he is intelligent, committed, he loves the game. He just has to think, 'Do I want to sacrifice all the rest of my life to be involved in that job?'"
Theoretically Arsenal could sign Henry as a free agent.
Wenger believes Henry has the capability to play at the required level still, but remains uncertain if he would want to.
"Yes (he can still do a job as a player), but 37 today in the Premier League... I don't think he wants to do that again.
"Thierry has given a lot, he has come out (of the Premier League) with an image that is fantastic. I am not sure that he wants to play again in the Premier League."
Asked by Press Association Sport how he would react if Henry was to call him and ask to come back to the squad, Wenger said: "I don't think he wants to carry on. That is a virtual world."