A day after Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe confirmed that forward Thierry Henry will be returning to New York on Feb. 17 following his loan to English Premiership side Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Manager, spoke highly of the Frenchman and his contribution during his time at his former club.
“I would have loved him to stay two more weeks but he has to go back. He is captain of Red Bulls. 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,” Wenger said Friday.
Henry has scored two goals in all competitions, including the game-winner against Leeds United on Jan. 9 in his first appearance of his loan stint. The Arsenal all-time leading scorer has mainly appeared as a substitute for Wenger’s side, but the manager praised Henry’s impact on the club during his short stay.
“He has a fantastic impact on the squad,” Wenger said. “He was happy to be here and all the players were happy to have him around. In training, he looks better every week. He is now back to a fitness level comparable to all the other players. The movements of him training makes me think it is a shame he does not play for the national team anymore.”
Arsenal travels to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland on Saturday in league play. The final Arsenal match Henry is available for is on Feb. 15, when the Gunners take on AC Milan in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. The Red Bulls return from their Mexican preseason trip that same day before departing to Phoenix, AZ Feb. 20.