Wenger: Henry will leave on February 16
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Thierry Henry will not be extending his loan spell with Arsenal and will return to New York Red Bulls as planned on February 16.
Henry, 34, has enjoyed a memorable return to the Gunners, bagging the winner in the FA Cup third-round victory against Leeds United, before scoring in the 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn last weekend.
Wenger had previously stated that he wanted to keep Henry at Emirates Stadium for a little longer than the initial time-frame agreed with the Red Bulls, but with the new Major League Soccer campaign starting on March 11, the Gunners boss has now accepted that he must head back to the United States for pre-season training.
"There is clarification, it will be February 16. The day after the [Champions League last-16] game in Milan," Wenger said.
"I would have loved him to stay for two more weeks but he has to go back. He is captain of the Red Bulls, so just to appear on the first day of the season would be unfair to them.
"We accepted at the start that we would release him on February 16 so we respect our word. He thinks as well that it would be too late [to remain for two more weeks]."
Wenger has been delighted with Henry's impact since he returned to the club he captained before moving to Barcelona in 2007, claiming the France forward has been a "fantastic" presence on the pitch and in the dressing-room.
"He was happy to be here and all the players were happy to have him around," Wenger said. "In training he looks better every week. He is now back to a fitness level comparable to all the other players.
"His movement in training makes me think it is a shame he does not play for the national team anymore."