Thierry Henry has completed his return to Arsenal on loan from MLS side New York Red Bulls and could face Leeds United in the FA Cup on Monday night, live on ESPN.
Henry, 34, has signed a short-term deal and will return to the USA at the end of February to prepare for the Major League Soccer season.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is set to lose Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh to the African Nations Cup imminently, so the arrival of Henry comes at a useful time, particularly with Robin van Persie notoriously injury-prone and Park Chu-young still unproven in England.
Henry, who is Arsenal’s record goalscorer, left the club for Barcelona in 2007 – where he won the Champions League – before making the move to New York in 2010.
After signing the loan deal, Henry said on the club’s official website: “It is unreal to be honest. But when it comes to Arsenal my heart will always do the talking. Once I knew the plan behind it I was OK with it. 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 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. 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.”
Speaking about the deal, Wenger, said: “I am very happy. It was my desire and Thierry’s desire. We will have Thierry for January and in February. Then he will go back to the United States. I am sure during these two months he will be a massive asset to the team in the dressing room and on the pitch. He can be relaxed, not under too much pressure and be a tremendous help to the team.”
Wenger had been widely expected to rest much of his first team for the third round clash against Leeds at Emirates Stadium, but says he will only rest a few players, inculding Van Perise, which could open the door for Henry.
“[I will play] a strong side, a normal side,” Wenger told the club’s official website. “Robin van Persie will certainly be rested for this game. We will hopefully have Chamakh available, Park available.
“Gervinho will maybe miss the game because they [the Ivory Coast players] have to turn up 14 days before the [Africa Cup of Nations] tournament starts.”