It's official. Roughly one month after Arsenal dedicated a bronze statue outside Emirates Stadium in his honor, the side's all-time leading scorer, Thierry Henry, is returning to his former club as part of a short-term loan.
"Once I knew the plan behind it I was OK with it,” Henry said. “I am not coming here to be a hero or prove anything. I am just coming here to help. People have to understand that. Marouane [Chamakh] and Gervinho are going to the Africa Cup of Nations so I was asked to fill in the gap. It is a loan deal and I’ll be on the bench most of the time. If I can make the bench that is! The boss has a team here already who are doing something good. I am just going to be part of the squad.”
"I want to send a message to the fans of New York Red Bulls as well,” said Henry. “I always said I would not play in Europe again. But it is hard for me when it comes to Arsenal. I am not coming here for the whole season, I will be back and I want to win the MLS Cup with the Red Bulls. I hope it is win-win situation where I can help Arsenal and come back fit for the MLS season."
Henry's legacy with the Gunners is nothing short of spectacular, as he tallied 226 goals in 369 appearances. Now, as he returns to North London, Henry has a chance to add a few more to his name.
Rumors of Henry's return to Arsenal began to circulate earlier in the month following his training stint with the club. While slated as a conditioning move, the buzz picked up a bit more following his Dec. 9 statue ceremony and was all but confirmed in the final days of 2011, pending approval of paperwork.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was on hand for those ceremonies and had nothing but great things to say about his former player. That didn't change one bit following the news of Henry's return.
"I think it is just credit to him to want to be helpful to a club that has given him so much," Wenger told Arsenal.com. "Therefore I feel there is no special pressure to be the player he was before."
Red Bulls General Manager Erik Soler echoed a similar sentiment, noting it was a win-win for both teams.
“We believe that this is a beneficial move for all parties involved,” said Soler. “From our perspective, we believe that Thierry will have the prime opportunity to develop his match fitness playing with Arsenal in preparation for our MLS regular season campaign. We are personally thrilled that Thierry has earned this chance to rejoin and help his former club and look forward to seeing him in preseason camp in February.”
The Red Bulls captain was seen training once again with Arsenal prior to the loan announcement and is expected to return stateside by mid-February. He’s available to rejoin his former club immediately.
The Red Bulls’ 2012 home opener at Red Bull Arena will take place on Sunday, March 25 against the Colorado Rapids. Season ticket plans for the Red Bulls’ 2012 home schedule at Red Bull Arena are available now by calling 1.877.RBSOCCER or logging onto www.newyorkredbulls.com/tickets.