Henry pledge to announce plans before World Cup

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger welcomed the news that Thierry Henry wanted his future sorted out before the start of the World Cup, but maintained he would not rush the Arsenal captain to make a decision.

The Gunners are keen to sign the French striker to a new long-term contract, as speculation linking the 28-year-old with a move to Spanish champions Barcelona shows little signs of abating.

Henry declared back in January he wanted to stay at Arsenal and lead the team out at their new, 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium in August.

As yet, however, their talisman skipper has not put pen to paper on a contract extension, his current deal running out at the end of next season.

For the moment, Henry is focused on helping the Gunners finish in the top four of Barclays Premiership and on making further progress in the Champions League, with Arsenal taking a 2-0 advantage into the second leg of their quarter-final tie against Juventus next week.

The 28-year-old has, though, now indicated he will not let the uncertainty over his future drag on into the World Cup.

It was a sentiment echoed by his manager.

"On my side it has always been the same, on his side, only Thierry can explain where he stands," said Wenger.

"Thierry has said many times he is ambitious and wants to be part of an ambitious club. I feel that we are one."

Wenger quipped: "The World Cup starts on June 9, so we should know on June 8 at midnight!"

However, the Arsenal boss insisted: "When he is ready, I have no deadline.

"I do not think it would be good for him to wait until after the World Cup, although for me it would be less disturbing than for him.

"You can get calls during the World Cup and it can disturb your focus. He came out right to say he will decide before the World Cup."

Although Henry's decision may, on the face of things, seem a straightforward one, it is a choice which will effectively define where he plays out his career, with the striker turning 29 in August.

And the Arsenal captain knows it has to be sorted out sooner rather than later.

"At the end of the season we are going to have to take a decision. It will be done before the World Cup, that's for sure," Henry said in an interview with Arsenal TV Online, conducted ahead of the victory over Juventus.

"People were talking about money, but I think people should know by now I am not someone who thinks about the money before the game.

"That is why, when I talked about sporting ambitions, I was talking about the pitch and nothing else."

The striker - who scored Arsenal's second in the 2-0 win over the Italians in midweek - insists he is not letting the constant speculation upset his form.

"People wonder whether it does disturb me, but I said so many times when you look at my performances on the pitch for my club that should be an answer to all these kind of questions," said Henry.

"We are talking with the board and with Arsenal at the moment about the contract situation - but there are so many things at stake that we should talk about.

"My main concern right now is to finish in the top four - because it's vital for the club and anything that is going to happen at the club next, and to concentrate on winning the Champions League.

"That is where my focus is right now, because if you start to think of contract talks over what you should be thinking about on the pitch then it can disturb you. But it hasn't."

Henry even accepts he would be able to devote more time to plotting his next move if the conclusion to Arsenal's season was more clear-cut, like the scenario facing champions elect Chelsea.

"If we were maybe like Chelsea - 20 points ahead and in the semi-final of the FA Cup, and already out of the Champions League - maybe you can start to think about stuff," he added.

"We are not in that situation, and I cannot afford to keep my foot off the pedal and think about other stuff when my team needs me to be focused on what we're doing right now - trying to get in the top four and maybe, finally, getting our hands on that (Champions League) trophy."