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
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk