If reports are to be believed, Thierry Henry has agreed to return to Arsenal for a third time in January—with the Premier League club said to be negotiating the terms of a loan deal with New York Red Bulls.
Not many footballers get to play in a stadium with their own statue standing outside, but such is Henry's undying love for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger's unwavering faith in his fellow Frenchman, that the lure of a second swansong appears to have proved too strong for either party to resist.
Michael Cummings, my esteemed B/R colleague, will tell you it's the wrong move for Arsenal. He's wrong, and here's why.
Henry returned for a six-week spell in north London in January, to be met by his newly-erected statue and treated to the hero's welcome his previous Arsenal heroics well deserved.
Arsenal needed a lift and Henry—albeit fleetingly—delivered it. He scored the winner on his 'second debut' at Leeds and reminded Arsenal fans that their club is still something special.
"It was a little bit like a dream," said Arsene Wenger that night. "It was a story you would tell young kids if you want to tell them a story about football."
Many will argue Henry's return was smoke and mirrors—that he was brought back to appease Arsenal's frustrated fans and help paper over the cracks. The same accusations will be louder this time around, with the Gunners 10th in the Premier League and fans becoming more disillusioned by the day.
There will also be the accusation that bringing Henry back is just another way of Wenger and the Arsenal board saving money in the transfer window.
But consider this. Should the deal happen, Henry will arrive on the back of his most prolific season in MLS—having scored 15 times and laid on 12 assists in 25 games for the Red Bulls. As a player, he still has something to offer, and Arsenal are crying out for a goalscorer right now.
Thierry Henry to Arsenal
Yes, they could buy one instead, but how many world-class strikers will be both available to the Gunners in January and eligible to play in the Champions League? Moreover, in their current state, how many world-class strikers would want to join Arsenal right now?
Not many is the answer. And even if Arsenal did manage to land a player of real quality like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Mirror) in January, he would need time to settle and he would still be wanting for creative talent around him.
Bringing back Henry is a win-win. Not only would he offer Arsenal composure and class going forward on the pitch, he would also lift the mood of the fans and bring some much-needed leadership to the Arsenal dressing room.
What Arsenal need more than anything now is focus. They need an experienced head to galvanise the youthful talent in their ranks, and those same young players need a figurehead to aspire to.
Henry might be 35, but he still has a huge amount to offer—both on and off the field. Bringing him back to Arsenal is the right decision for all concerned with the club.