Would re-signing Thierry Henry be a step backwards for Arsenal?

The big news around the Emirates this week, other than the 2-0 Champions League win over French side Montpellier on Wednesday, concerns Thierry Henry and the possibility of him returning to Arsenal for another loan spell. The news broke on Nov. 21 that the Gunners’ legend could come back to the club yet again in January when Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh will likely be headed off to the African Cup of Nations to play with Ivory Coast and Morocco. It’s an interesting notion and it’s sparked a bit of a debate between supporters.

There’s no doubt that the 35-year-old Henry had an excellent season with the New York Red Bulls. He scored 15 goals and set up 12 others in 25 games with the club this year. He was also named as one of three finalists for Major League Soccer’s most valuable player award. And to top things off, he was also named to the league’s all-star squad for the second straight year.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Henry’s been practicing with his squad and looks sharp in training. Of course, he re-signed the forward for a loan spell last season and Henry repaid him by scoring a pair of game-winning goals in seven games to run his tally to 228 with the team. Who can forget the dramatic late winner against Sunderland and his wonderful goal against Leeds in the FA Cup?

Signing Henry as cover for Gervinho and Chamakh makes sense as you can never be too deep in quality players in case of injury problems to the squad. Things don’t look too bad right now with wins over Spurs and Montpellier, but ideal situations can change in a matter of minutes when it comes to football. Players can get injured, lose confidence, or simply play badly at any time over a long, hard season.

Wenger has nothing but praise for Henry and that’s understandable because he deserves it. You know exactly what you’re getting with him when he comes on the pitch and he always gives the club hope no matter what the situation is. He’s also an important part of any team off the pitch too since he has so much experience and advice to share with his younger teammates.

Arsenal will need all the points they can get if they want to assure themselves of making the Champions League again next season and Henry could help the club since he still has the skills to put the ball in the net. Regardless of his age, he’s still a good player and I wonder if those who are against Wenger signing him again would feel the same way if he was just 25 years old. I don’t agree with judging athletes on their age. They either have the skills required to compete or they don’t. So let’s judge them on the pitch.

When it comes to Henry, I don’t see any reason to believe he doesn’t have what it takes to make a contribution. Yes, he’s a living legend and the club’s all-time top scorer, but those facts don’t mean a thing if he can’t still play the game at the top level. I’ve yet to see any indication however that he’s lost his abilities.

Most of those who are against his return aren’t really basing their argument on an erosion of his skills, even though he’s inevitably lost a step or two. Rather, many of them believe the club should be signing young players with bright futures ahead of them. Some fans believe that signing Henry would be done just to save money on signing a big-name player instead and it would represent a step backward for a manager who has simply run out of ideas and ambition. If he is signed, Henry would obviously be a short-term solution, but every point during the Premier League season is very valuable. So what if he plays just a few games, as long as he can help the team is there a real problem with signing him?

There will still be supporters who argue that Henry is just a shadow of his former self and can’t handle the pace and physicality of the modern Premier League. Well, there’s really only one way to find out and that would be to give him the chance to prove what he can do. I don’t see what the Gunners have to lose in this situation. The same arguments against signing him were undoubtedly voiced last year too, but in the end it all worked out well enough… didn’t it?

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