Arsène Wenger says he will consider re-signing Thierry Henry on a short-term loan in January for the second successive season. Henry trained last week at London Colney after his season with the New York Red Bulls ended on 8 November, with the play-off defeat to DC United. The 35-year-old is scheduled to tour Venezuela with the Red Bulls but he stands to be available to a European club when the winter transfer window opens.
"Thierry has been practising with us," Wenger said, ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League tie at home to Montpellier. "Three times he trained with us. Will I sign him again in January? I don't know. I don't rule it out. I don't know if he would be interested. He is sharp."
Wenger turned to the Frenchman last January, as he prepared to lose Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh to the Africa Cup of Nations and he felt that the squad needed cover. Henry arrived on a two-month loan deal. There is another edition of the Cup of Nations this season – beginning in South Africa on 19 January – and, once again, Wenger is braced to lose the same pair to call-ups from Ivory Coast and Morocco respectively.
"Last year, I did it [sign Henry] because we lost Gervinho," Wenger said. "It was a good connection. This year we lose Gervinho again as they are playing the African Cup of Nations two years in a row. So we will be confronted with a shortage, particularly if Chamakh should go. I cannot stand in his way. Then we will be short."
Henry made seven appearances for Arsenal last season and scored two goals – the late winners against Leeds in the FA Cup and Sunderland in the Premier League. His charisma and experience, though, were also invaluable. Wenger commented last December, when he confirmed Henry's temporary return that "you do not find players on the planet of this quality who are available for two months" and his view has not changed. Henry scored a club record 226 goals during between 1999‑2007.
"You know what he gives you," Wenger said. "He gives you hope, especially when he comes on. That is the most important thing. Thierry is a communicator, an extrovert, very intelligent. He can only give good advice to players because he was in their position when he arrived here. I think now that this team has an exceptionally good character. There are not many flashy boys.
"What is most important is not whether you are an extrovert but what it means to you to do your job well … your will to win. I saw last night on French TV, for example, Jonny Wilkinson [the Toulon rugby player] and when you see the dedication … he's not an extrovert but when you see the dedication that the top, top players show in their sport, that's what you want … multiplied by 25."
Henry, who scored 15 times for the Red Bulls this season and is on a three-man short-list for MLS's MVP award, attended Arsenal's 5-2 home win over Tottenham on Saturday, when he sat alongside Sol Campbell, another former Arsenal man. Wenger recalled Campbell to the club on loan in January 2010 and with David Beckham nearing the end of his LA Galaxy career and ready for one last challenge, it was put to him that Henry might not be his only veteran January signing.
"To sign Beckham, Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell?" Wenger said, with a smile. "We had a staff game today. They could have played with us."
Arsenal's victory over Tottenham has provided a timely lift but the squad's collective confidence remains a talking point ahead of Montpellier's visit. "My team want to do so well that when it does not go as well as they want, they suffer a bit from confidence," Wenger admitted.
He said that the sharp fluctuations in his players' belief is a worry and it was clear that he felt Henry's possible arrival would bring balance. "You have one defeat and you listen to people: 'Get the player out, get the manager out.' Now, they speak of [Roberto] Di Matteo [at Chelsea]. He's just won the Champions League and FA Cup. It does affect you. When you're young, it's more difficult to take a distance. You're more fragile when you're younger."
Theo Walcott will miss the Montpellier game with the shoulder problem that he suffered against Spurs but Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho are expected to return as substitutes.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Sean Jackson