Thierry Henry has agreed in principle to make a sensational return to Arsenal for a third spell in January, Goal.com can reveal.
The club are aiming for their all-time leading goalscorer to begin his second loan in consecutive seasons on January 1.
Henry has told Arsenal that he wants to return to the Emirates Stadium and the Londoners are now thrashing out an agreement with his club, New York Red Bulls, on the terms of the deal. The key sticking point is the length of the loan, with Arsene Wenger keen to have the 35-year-old for as long as possible.
The MLS club have given the go-ahead for Henry to join for a similar six-week period to last season but they are reluctant for the French native of Guadeloupe to be allowed an extension to his stay much beyond mid-February.
Henry is due back in New York to honour the final year of his contract with the Red Bulls, where the season runs from March to November.
However, discussions are more advanced than at this time last year and there should not be a repeat of the hitches which held up the deal in late December and early January in 2011-12.
As a result of medical and insurance issues, the forward’s registration did not go through until January 7 and the first of his seven substitute appearances was in the 1-0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup two days later, when he came off the bench to score a late winner.
Arsenal and Henry are confident that he can make an even bigger impact than his output of two goals a third strike was later chalked off retrospectively in seven games last season.
Wenger decided to make a move for the club’s 228-goal record scorer after being struck by his condition and sharpness during a few training sessions at London Colney in November after Henry had completed a third season at the Red Bulls.
The striker will train with Arsenal in December when he returns from holiday and should be back in the first-team squad and available for selection for the New Year.
Wenger has made no attempt to hide his desire to bring Henry back for a third spell, following his record-breaking eight years from 1999 to 2007 and then his loan last season.
Asked about his fellow Frenchman, Wenger previously remarked: “A loan [for Henry] is still a possibility but we will still try to strengthen for the long term.
“Henry is the talent that you dream to have. He has fantastic physique, fantastic technique, a fantastic brain, all built together in one man. At the start he was not confident enough but he has gone on to show what a great player he is.”
Henry will offer a temporary solution to Arsenal’s centre forward problem but Wenger is still keen to move for a long-term forward signing in January. As revealed by Goal.com, his top target is Atletico Madrid’s Adrian Lopez.
The Londoners will lose Gervinho on Africa Cup of Nations duty in January for up to six weeks and doubt surrounds the future of Theo Walcott, even though progress has been made in his contract negotiations with the club.
Henry will return to Arsenal on the back of his best season for the Red Bulls. The former France international capped an excellent campaign, which yielded 15 goals in 29 games, by being one of the three players nominated for the MLS most valuable player of the year award. Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski are the other nominees.