Henry 'not for sale at any price', says Dein

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The Independent Football

Every man, it is said, has his price. Not according to Arsenal. Thierry Henry, they insisted yesterday, is priceless. The Premiership leaders were responding to an official inquiry from Chelsea, and an unofficial one from Real Madrid. Though speculation lists Henry at £50m, neither suitor has yet tabled a bid and, said Arsenal's vice-chairman, David Dein, they would be wasting their time if they did.

"The message that goes out loud and clear from Arsenal is that Thierry Henry is not for sale," Dein said. "It doesn't make any difference what the figure is. No one will leave this club over Arsène Wenger's head. He has the final decision on buying and selling."

Which was exactly what Wenger wanted to hear. The Arsenal manager said: "People understand if you don't have money to buy players, they don't understand if you sell your best players. If I was asked to sell Thierry or Patrick [Vieira] I would say no, simply no, not even for £50m. If you have money and not the players it doesn't help you.

"The target for a football club is to have a team on the pitch, not a bank full of money," Wenger added. "We are a big club wanting to be bigger. It takes 10 years of hard work to get to that level, but it can be destroyed in five minutes of madness. Let's not be stupid."

Dein revealed that Chelsea made an initial inquiry during the summer and came back last week. On both occasions they were told Henry was not for sale. "Chelsea acted entirely appropriately," Dein said. He is less impressed with Real's sly approach, stating: "Four Spanish journalists asked if I was aware that Florentino Perez [the Real Madrid president], had said 'Henry is my first priority' and that what Perez says he gets. I said 'Hands off'.

"I said there are five reasons. It weakens our team. It strengthens the opposition. It would destroy what Arsène and his coaching team are trying to achieve. It would send out the wrong signals to our fans. And Thierry does not want to leave. He is under contract until 2007 and happy here. Certain clubs in Europe work to unsettle people, that's what happened with Ronaldo. Heads get turned and they use other players to help them."

Perhaps Dein should send a minder to Basle with Henry today in case he talks to other contenders for the World Player of the Year award, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane, who joined Real despite their previous clubs insisting they were not for sale.