There is a lot of gossip appearing in the English press in the last few days about Henry’s agent Jerome Anderson already in talks with Barca officials!
There are also the usual Barcelona induced Spanish press gossipers who at the end of each season begin the usual ritual of publishing stories about Henry leaving Arsenal.
This is also spuriously linked to a few words that Henry himself has said about not being happy with the way things have turned out at Arsenal this season.
Leaving aside the fact that all concerned with Arsenal should indeed be unhappy with the season just ended there are not in our opinion strong football, financial or personal reasons at the moment to justify Henry’s departure from Arsenal.
A fit Henry is not for sale full stop. But clearly Henry has not been at his usual scintillating best during last season. The stats on the player would obviously not make a pretty reading.
This has been put down to injury and fatigue. This may be so; we are not in a position to know. Maybe Wenger and his medical team are also not in a position to know either.
There must be some niggling thoughts at the back of Wenger’s mind that may be Henry is beginning to lose his pace due to age and not because of injury. He is after all entering that stage in his career at 29 where this indeed may begin to show.
And the fact is that unless Henry gets totally fit again no one will know. Totally fit in our mind means doing it on the centre stage in a competitive match. Not at the London Colney play house nor indeed at the Amsterdam Tournament or the Emirates Cup during the pre season.
So it would indeed be very premature for Wenger to let Henry go at this juncture. No one can tell whether Henry is past it yet. So if Wenger is serious about challenging for the title next season he needs to keep Henry at the club and hope that Henry will be at his top form.
Arsenal Analysis has advocated that Arsenal need to recruit another striker in order to supplement the forward line and provide cover. Something that was evidently missing this season. What does Arsenal need to do to challenge for next season? So you wouldn’t let a 25 goal a season man go just like that whatever money they are offering you.
If indeed Henry is not up to it then the best time to cut your losses and sell will be in the January transfer window when by then Henry’s fitness will be more evident and the team’s capabilities in terms of winning something major more apparent. And the public outcry probably a little less vociferous.
Wenger was faced with this type of decision before! He could have got a vastly superior purse for Vieira but he held on for another season (incorrectly so, as Vieira was indeed not performing at his high best but that is another story).
There is another football reason for keeping Henry.
The effect on player’s morale would be even more devastating than when Vieira departed. Judging by what happened when Vieira left then you can kiss the title goodbye if this happens.
Especially if there is no effective replacement with a big name signing coming in. Like Eto’o for instance. And the chances of this happening are not that great.
And if indeed it does happen there is the now almost mandatory six to twelve months adjustment to English football period to consider. Wenger knows this and that is why in our opinion he will not want to let Henry go, for now.
On the face of it there is a strong case for purely financial reasons to sell Henry on. The club will receive a substantial fee in the region of 20m plus save his salaries for the next four years totaling another 25m. That’s a huge sum of money to waive goodbye to!
However if, say, Henry were to be sold the year after, most of the salaries will not go away nor indeed a large part of the transfer fee. In other words the risks in terms of forgone financial benefits could be manageable compared to the possible upside of winning trophies next year and the commercial benefits that will ensue.
We have left this factor last because it is indeed the most important. If Henry wants out then Wenger will have his work cut out to convince him otherwise. But Henry has won almost everything there is to win in football apart the Champions League.
He has won the World Cup (played in two finals), the European Championship and several League championships in the toughest league in the world. Does he honestly believe that by moving to Barcelona he will win the Champion’s League? The Barcelona that were knocked out by Liverpool?
And then there is his personal situation. His wife is English and they have a young daughter. Why move abroad and unsettle all that? Especially when the Arsenal youngsters are coming of age and on the brink of establishing Arsenal as one of the best teams in the world playing fantastic football!
Only last week Henry said:
“Since I started playing football there has been speculation about me going to a lot of clubs and that will never, ever stop.
But as I said, for now I am an Arsenal player, so there is nothing to add to it.”
Ed: the italics are our own!