Wenger plays down return of Arsenal hero

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has poured cold water on speculation linking Gunners legend Thierry Henry with a move back to North London.

The Frenchman, who left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007, currently plays for New York Red Bulls in the MLS and with the season in America now over, rumours have been swirling around that Henry is set for a second return to Arsenal having begun training with the club. Henry, 36, had a loan spell with the club in January 2012, and many had suspected a similar deal would be struck in the New Year.

But Wenger has moved to play down speculations of a return for Henry, who spent eight seasons with Arsenal after his 1999 move from Italian giants Juventus. Henry isn't the only former Gunner to be training with the club, as Robert Pires also made a return - but, just like Henry, Wenger says there is nothing more to it than keeping up fitness.

"They like to come back to Arsenal, to practise. When they can join in, they do. They integrate well with the spirit of the team, nothing more than that. They have no real target to bring something, they just want to enjoy themselves and keep their fitness. Usually they don't practise with the first team, because they come in and work on fitness. When we have some room we invite them to play with us but usually they train separately to us."

Pires was never likely to re-sign having been out of football since the summer of 2011, but Henry has been playing regular in New York, and is likely still in good health. Remember, Wenger initially said that Mathieu Flamini has only training with the club when he returned, and with chief executive Ivan Gazidis declaring Arsenal's need for a striker, maybe fans shouldn't close the door on an Henry return just yet...

image: © Sean Jackson

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