Arsene Wenger has ruled out yet another return for Arsenal legend Thierry Henry despite the Frenchman training with the Premier League leaders in an effort to maintain his fitness levels.
36-year-old Henry and 40-year-old Robert Pires are currently using the Gunners’ training base at London Colney along with the current first-team squad, but Wenger insists that the New York Red Bulls’ striker will not be making another loan-move to re-join the club he spent eight successful years with.
Henry, who remains Arsenal’s record goalscorer with 228, made a dramatic return to the Gunners in January 2012, going on to score the winner in both the FA Cup victory over Leeds and the Premier League win at Sunderland.
However, despite Arsenal looking light in attack – Nicklas Bentdner has so far shown nothing to suggest he can fill Olivier Giroud’s boots should anything happen to the current starting striker – Wenger has insisted that a move for Henry is not on the cards at present.
“At the moment Thierry is invited just to practise when he can and when he wants,” said the Arsenal manager.
“We have a big staff, a very competent one, and we have the right number to support the team to achieve the targets.
“Thierry is a player, one day certainly it will be different, but at the moment no.”
Both Henry and Pires were integral figures in Wenger’s ‘ Invincibles’ side that dominated the 2003-04 Premier League season, as well as setting the record 49-matches unbeaten.
They also featured in the side that took on Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, with Pires ending his spell in London shortly after the defeat while Henry remained with Arsenal for one more season as he led the move to the Emirates Stadium before leaving for the Catalan club in 2007.
Wenger has also admitted that their presence around the ground has nothing but benefits to the his current crop of players, although their interactions are somewhat limited as the veteran duo tend to work on their fitness while Wenger is taking training.
He does invite the two players to join in with training where available though, and feels that their knowledge and experience can rub off on his much younger squad.
“They have no real target to bring something, they just want to enjoy themselves and keep their fitness,” said Wenger.
“Usually they don't practise with the first team, because they come in and work on fitness.
“It is a little bit less competitive, but when we have some room we invite them to play with us.
“They integrate well [with] the spirit of the team.”
Despite his comments though, it would not be a surprise to see Henry in an Arsenal shirt at the Emirates come January, with Wenger demonstrating a preference in the past of taking his former players back for short-term spells when they become available.
As well as Henry, fellow ‘Invincibles’ Sol Campbell and Jens Lehmann have re-joined the Gunners in the past, while Mathieu Flamini became the latest to return when he agreed a new deal in August having left AC Milan in the summer.