By Richard Clarke
Another week, another raft of stories suggesting Thierry Henry is leaving Highbury.
Seasoned Arsenal fans will know the scenario. It occurred most summers before Patrick Vieira finally departed last year and crops up each time Arsène Wenger's contract is set for renewal.
That's why you can hardly blame the Arsenal manager for taking this week's reports of a verbal agreement between Barcelona and Henry with a hefty pinch of salt.
"I don't believe there is any truth in that because I cannot imagine that Thierry would do that," he said at Friday's pre-match press conference.
"Secondly, don't forget that Thierry is under contract until 2007 so anything agreed without us being involved can only be invented because it cannot be true.
"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.
"I cannot stop any noises or transfer rumours. I tried for a while and I couldn't do it so there are a few solutions: either Thierry extends his contract now or does it at the end of the season.
"I believe he will stay with us but for me the most important thing 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."
Wenger also outlined the current situation regarding his captain.
"Basically we know what we want, he knows what we offer and you have to respect a player who is not completely ready yet," said the manager.
"Certainly someone like Thierry Henry will want to play in the Champions League. But there's more at stake than that - one year in the Champions League.
"It's 'Do I want to finish my career at the Club and be a player who has dedicated his career, his sporting life basically, to one club or not?'"
For the record, Henry indicated some months ago that he would be extending his contract with Arsenal.
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