Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has "ruled out" Thierry Henry taking up a coaching role with the club's under-18 side after the former Gunners striker opted to remain in his punditry role at Sky Sports, per Sky Sports News HQ.
Wenger reportedly told club legend Henry that he must quit his job with Sky Sports in order to have a coaching role with the Gunners despite the Frenchman offering to work for free.
Henry spoke about the decision on Twitter:
"I would like to thank Andries Jonker for offering me the chance to coach the [Arsenal U18s], which I was honoured to accept. However, I respect Arsene Wenger's decision, and I want to wish their manager Kwame Ampadu, the boys and everyone at the club all the best for the forthcoming season."
Henry, 38, has spent time with a variety of the youth teams at Arsenal while doing his UEFA A licence qualifications, but now he must coach a side to get his UEFA Pro Licence, per Matt Law of the Telegraph.
According to the Daily Mail's Charles Sale, Jonker, the head of Arsenal's academy, had offered Henry the position of assistant coach with the under-18s, but Wenger said he had to quit his television role to take the job, as he "cannot work within the club during the week and then criticise their players at the weekend."
Sale added that Henry's Sky Sports role is believed to be worth £4 million a year, and the Frenchman offered to work for nothing at Arsenal as a potential compromise.
Per Law, Wenger does not want anyone at Arsenal to "be seen as a possible threat to his position in the future," and Henry joins the likes of Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Mikel Arteta as former Gunners who have cut their teeth coaching away from north London.
The 66-year-old French manager also reportedly took issue with some of Henry's criticisms of Arsenal last season, notably his comments about Olivier Giroud and claims that "he had never seen the Arsenal fans so unhappy," per Law and Sale.
Wenger risks alienating Arsenal fans having forced Henry out of the club, as not only is he arguably their greatest player ever, but he appeared to be a potential candidate to take over as the senior team manager in the long term.
Wenger has only a year left on his current deal at the Emirates Stadium, and there have been various reports linking him with the vacant England job, per Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail.
He recently refused to rule out possibly coaching the Three Lions in the future, per SuperSport:
Wenger: "Could I manage England? Why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focused in club football." https://t.co/NE1U4o7ink2016-7-11 20:30:31
Certainly his long tenure at Arsenal looks to be drawing to a close two decades after his 1996 appointment.
Arsenal have not won the Premier League title since 2004, and there were fan protests against the club's hierarchy late last season, per the Mirror's John Cross and Jack Lang.
The obvious move, when the time comes, would be to replace Wenger with one of the many legends he coached at the club. But the list of possible candidates is shortening.
Per Law, Vieira "was not allowed a senior role at Arsenal under Wenger" and is now firmly established at Manchester City—where Arteta has just started his coaching career—while Bergkamp and Overmars are both in top jobs at Ajax.
Henry now looks to be forced to start his coaching career elsewhere, a move that could hurt Arsenal in the long run.