LONDON: Arsene Wenger has poured cold water on claims Barcelona have already done a deal to lure Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry to Spain in time for next season.
Henry, 28, has yet to commit to a new contract at Arsenal but Wenger insisted that reports of a secret agreement under which the French striker would move to Catalonia in the summer were wide of the mark.
“I do not believe there is any truth in that because I cannot imagine that Thierry would do that,” Wenger said on Friday.
“Secondly, do not forget that Thierry is under contract until 2007, so anything agreed without us being involved can only be invented because it cannot be true.
“After that there is a game going on between the Spanish press and English press. The Spanish press brings something out that is not true and the English press answers that, and the same on the other side.”
Wenger added: “I cannot stop any noises or transfer rumours. I tried for a while and I could not do it, so there are a few solutions. Either Thierry extends his contract now or does it at the end of the season, or I do not know what his intention really is to do.
“I believe he will stay with us, but for me the most important at the moment is that he is focused on doing well with the team and I am convinced he does that because his answer is on the pitch.”
Arsenal faced Charlton yesterday looking to keep up the pressure on north London neighbours Tottenham in the battle for fourth place in the Premiership, which carries the lucrative prize of a Champions League spot next season.
The importance of meeting that goal has been increased by Arsenal's costly move to their new 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium at the end of the season.
But retaining Henry is arguably just as big a goal.
“Certainly a player like Thierry Henry will want to play Champions League, but there is more at stake than that - than one year in the Champions League,” Wenger said of the choice facing his biggest star.
“It is 'do I want to finish my career at the club?' And to be a player who has dedicated his career, his sports life basically, to one club or not?”
“We will be talking to Thierry again but basically we know what we want, he knows what we offer – but you have to respect a player is not completely ready yet.” – AFP