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Thierry Henry more likely to take paternity leave than join Arsenal on loan claims New York Red Bulls advisor Gerard Houllier


Gérard Houllier last night dampened hopes for Thierry Henry's proposed return to Arsenal.

Henry had been widely expected to join Arsenal on loan during the Major League Soccer off-season in January. But Houllier, a senior adviser at Henry's club New York Red Bulls, said he does not expect the move to happen.

"I find it strange what we hear in the media," Houllier told the French TV station Canal Plus yesterday. "If Arsène [Wenger] needed him, he would have called me or sporting director Andy Roxburgh, but this is not the case."

Henry became a father again in August and Houllier believes Henry would not want to spend his break playing more football in England.

"I do not think both parties need to have this second comeback. Moreover, he became a dad. I think he will want to enjoy the holidays," he added.

Henry, Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorer, returned to Arsenal under similar circumstances in January of this year. He played in seven games and scored twice: the only goal of an FA Cup home tie against Leeds United before winning a Premier League game at Sunderland 2-1 deep into added time.

Arsenal do need more support up front as they have struggled to cope with the departure of Robin van Persie in the summer. Olivier Giroud, bought from French champions Montpellier, has performed well but the highly rated Germany international Lukas Podolski has not, although he scored against Reading last night. Gervinho, in his second season at the Emirates, struggled in his brief spell as a centre-forward and is in a particularly poor run of form.

If Henry does not return, there will be even more pressure on Wenger to buy more forwards in January. He is keen on Schalke's Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has been a reliable goalscorer wherever he has played. Demba Ba could also be available from Newcastle United and would add physical presence up front.

Wenger is also interested in Crystal Palace's 20-year-old winger Wilfried Zaha, arguably the most talented player in the Championship, who was recently given his England debut in a friendly against Sweden.