Wenger: Henry staying with Gunners

April 6, 2007

Arsene Wenger has again re-iterated Thierry Henry is fully committed to Arsenal - and believes their captain will return to 'have an outstanding season'.

The French striker has been forced out for the remainder of the campaign following the latest in a string of injury setbacks.

Henry, 29, pledged his long-term future to the Gunners when he agreed a new deal after leading the team to the Champions League final last year.

However, reports originating from the Continent have claimed the north London club would now be willing to offload their talisman for the right price - with Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid all said to be closely monitoring the situation.

Wenger, though, was quick to dismiss the 'invented' reports out of hand when he spoke to reporters ahead of the Barclays Premiership clash with West Ham.

'It is wrong,' the Arsenal manager insisted.

'I had a chat with him this morning and it is clear - he wants to stay. I am clear - I want him to stay. So that story has been completely invented.

'Thierry wanted to make it clear.

'I was not concerned because I know the day Thierry Henry wants to leave he will knock at my door and say: 'Listen, I want to go somewhere.' He did not do that.'

Wenger added: 'I feel Thierry has the same level of enthusiasm.

'You see him today in the dressing room and he is motivated for tomorrow's game, motivating the other players.

'He has had a bad season, he would be the first to admit that.

'Still, if you look at the number of games he has played and the number of goals he has scored, it is not as bad as everyone thinks because he has scored 10 [Premiership] goals in 17 played.

'But Thierry Henry was playing 50 games every year, for eight years on the trot.

'In fairness, that is exceptional.

'You know that, one year, he will not be capable of playing 50 games.

'It was after the World Cup final, and the Champions League final. It was certainly too much for him.

'Overall, I feel he is frustrated - but he wants to bounce back next year and have an outstanding season.'

Wenger accepted Henry had been paying the price for a gruelling previous campaign which ended in defeat at both the Champions League and World Cup final.

The Arsenal manager said: 'This season, he needed a break. Maybe we have underestimated, although I tried to protect him more this season than ever before.

'Thierry always wants to play so when he has a little problem he does not talk about it, and he thinks he can manage it.

'But you could see this year that he was never as full in his movement.

'The problem is is that when you get to 29 or 30, people start to say: 'Oh he has lost something'. He has not lost something, he was not free in his movement.'

Wenger firmly believes the best if yet to come from Henry.

'Thierry is intelligent and he is class. That means he learns from every game he plays,' said the Arsenal manager.

'It is good sometimes to look at your job from a distance.

'First of all you experience how much you miss it and secondly you are natural in your analysing of the game. You are more objective about the football situations.'

Wenger, meanwhile, expects an agreement to be made on the future of out-of-contract goalkeeper Jens Lehmann by the end of the month.

One player, though, who could be on his way out of the club is midfielder Mathieu Flamini.

The 23-year-old claimed earlier this week that he was considering his options to due a lack of first-team football at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger can understand the player's frustrations.

'Flamini is fit, but is not in the squad because in midfield I have many players,' said the Arsenal manager.

'It is true he is not getting enough games. I accept that.

'You cannot give the guy the number of games he wants, but he still played 20 games.

'He did not enjoy playing left-back or right-back - if he had played there, he would have played the whole season.'