Wenger concerned by pressure on Henry

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, said yesterday that Thierry Henry had set a "deadline" of the start of the World Cup finals on 9 June to decide his future at the club. However, the Frenchman also spoke of his concern that "too much pressure" was being put on his captain before the European Cup final on Wednesday.

That was in reference to the constant comparisons which are inevitably being drawn between Henry and Ronaldinho and the effect they may have on the eagerly awaited contest but Wenger also knows that the continuing issue of the player's contract deliberations have weighed heavily.

Henry has one more year to run and despite his public declarations that he wants to stay - declarations that he has since watered down - nothing has yet been agreed.

"Winning the trophy is all that counts," Wenger said when the "will he, won't he?" question was raised. "We don't care what happens the day after or the day after that - it's the day of the game that we want to win the trophy back. I believe he [Henry] will make a decision before [the] World Cup. That starts on 9 June so that is the deadline. We will decide after Wednesday."

Wenger has long maintained that the result of the match cannot have a bearing on Henry's decision. He feels the player could not simply pin his future on 90 minutes but the qualification for next season's Champions' League, reached on the last day of the Premiership, has certainly helped.

Indeed, it cannot be discounted that the 28-year-old will make an announcement on the day of the game that he is staying at the club. He did exactly that before the 2003 FA Cup final - using the pages of The Sun newspaper, to whom he is contracted.

It is a decision that is in the balance - although that balance has tipped back towards Arsenal over the past few months, but only slightly. And it is made all the more dramatic because in Paris they will play Barcelona, the club Henry is most likely to join should he leave.

For Henry there is the added emotional force of a return to his home city.

"He is one of the few players who plays at home in Paris," Wenger said. "He know the Stade de France well and he plays for France there. The big players will be under pressure to perform. I will enjoy it if their big players are quiet."

The future of a few other of Wenger's "big players" is also in doubt. Robert Pires has been offered only a one-year contract extension, but wants two, and is wanted by a number of clubs led by Villarreal while Dennis Bergkamp is to retire. Sol Campbell may also be on the point of leaving - something which will concern Wenger less than the uncertainty over where Ashley Cole will be next season.

"That is not decided and we will talk after," Wenger said when asked about his players' futures. "First we go to Paris to win the trophy and after that we will cope, don't worry." Even so Wenger added: "We have prepared for the present and the future. The future is ahead of schedule."

The excitement surrounding the game, Wenger said, confirmed that "we are one of the biggest teams in the world. Everyone said Arsenal-Barcelona was the dream final and that means somewhere it is acknowledged that Arsenal are a very good football team."

Winning the trophy would not be an end in itself, Wenger said, although it will banish the criticism he has faced about an ability to cope in Europe's premier cup competition.

"We have to win the final," he said. "We want to win the trophy and I believe we will do it. For me it's just a natural step and give it our all. My career will never be good enough because it's the way I am. People judge whether we are good but I don't worry about that. I want to win it for the club, for the players and for me, but it's not what worries me."

It is the kind of statement that is only to be expected from one of the best managers in the game, as is his response to the issue of what has constituted his biggest disappointment while at Arsenal.

"I want to win Championship, the League Cup, the FA Cup and the European Cup - every year," Wenger replied. A victory on Wednesday will do for now.

Suggested Topics
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam