Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Arsenal to Hold on to Henry

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Arsenal to Hold on to Henry

Article excerpt

Arsenal have vowed never to sell the architect of Tuesday night's San Siro sensation.

Thierry Henry was man of the match in an incredible encounter with Inter Milan, scoring twice and setting up another as the Gunners roared to a 5-1 success.

It was their biggest victory in six seasons of Champions League competition and means victory against Lokomotiv Moscow at Highbury in a fortnight guarantees their progress from Group B.

A draw against the Russians would also be good enough if Dynamo Kiev also draw with Inter the same night.

Henry now has a dozen goals from 14 games this season, a record Arsenal know is likely to spark fresh speculation over potential suitors for the 26-year-old.

Chelsea's billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich was reported to have mooted a pounds 75m summer offer for the player who only signed his new contract, stretching until 2007, in May.

But Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood says even a bid more than doubling the world transfer record - Zinedine Zidane's pounds 46.5m move from Juventus to Real Madrid two years ago - would be rejected.

Hill-Wood said: "I was at dinner the night before the game and someone asked me about Thierry's price - if it would be pounds 50m, pounds 70m or pounds 100m if Abramovich called.

"My reply was `we're not interested in selling.' Thierry's irreplaceable and we have no intention of letting him go. "Thierry is not only a great player, probably the most complete I have seen at Arsenal, but also a great character and a lovely boy.

"It was a great coup when he signed a new contract. We pay him a hell of a lot of money but he's never come across as a greedy person. It was a pleasure dealing with him and we're delighted he's staying on.

"What good is it having one of the best stadiums in the world if we don't have a team to match?" Arsenal's problem-plagued Ashburton Grove ground project would be given a welcome cash injection if the Gunners clinch their progress in two weeks' time.

That possibility, which appeared a distant one after two defeats and a draw in their first three Champions League fixtures, looks increasingly likely after the win in Milan. …

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