Arsenal were moving closer last night to securing the return of Thierry Henry on a two-month loan deal.
Discussions between the Frenchman and his former club appear to have gone well and the foundations of a financial agreement governing a loan running until March are in place, which would see the north London club cover his £70,000-a-week wages, so securing the cover manager Arsène Wenger is seeking when Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh go to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.
There has been no advance in talks between Arsenal and Henry's current club, the New York Red Bulls, though sources in the United States have suggested that the major hurdle to clear was convincing the 34-year-old that the deal was right. There are no suggestions, ahead of discussions between the two clubs, that Arsenal will encounter the resistance Tottenham Hotspur did over attempts to secure David Beckham from LA Galaxy at the start of the year, or the rejection Everton received when trying to re-sign Landon Donovan last season. Henry's team-mates in New York appear to believe that he will be joining Arsenal on loan.
There were suggestions last night that Henry's shirt number might already have been agreed – with Theo Walcott in possession of his old No 14, Henry could take No 12 – and a deal may be in place when the transfer window opens on Sunday. That could mean Henry making his first appearance back at the club in the FA Cup third-round tie against Leeds United on 9 January. Donovan could face West Bromwich Albion for Everton on New Year's Day in his second loan spell at Goodison.