Thierry Henry is now free to make an inevitable return to Arsenal having announced his decision to leave New York Red Bulls. Should he reunite with Arsene Wenger for the third time, it should be for the sole purpose of moulding Danny Welbeck into a top striker.
Henry, 37, has still not officially announced his retirement but his decision to leave the MLS leaves few alternate options. While he still impressed with the New York outfit, Henry would struggle to compete in Europe's top divisions.
An interview with L'Equipe last week revealed that Henry had already decided to remain in football once his prolific boots were laid to rest. While management appears someway off, a role in coaching could come almost immediately.
And if Wenger has any sense, he will make Henry an offer he cannot refuse to make sure the legendary striker ends up in the halls of London Colney once again. Henry already admitted he would like to return to the place he made his name and hopefully learn his trade under a man who transformed him from a misfit winger into the world's best striker.
Wenger needs to take advantage of Henry's allegiance. Few could be better placed to coach Arsenal's current crop of strikers; Welbeck in particular. The £16 million summer signing has all the natural traits required to make him a top striker, and Henry can be his sherpa up the proverbial mountain.
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Optimistic Arsenal fans were quick to compare Welbeck to Henry when he arrived from Manchester United in the summer. Here was a young, lanky, quick striker who was tired of being played on the left-wing. Comparisons were inevitable.
A few games for Arsenal up front and he had already bagged a Champions League hat-trick and a couple in the league. Even Wenger was surprised by the 24-year-old's all-round ability, let alone his rapid top speed.
However, Welbeck has been less clinical since that famous night against a woeful Galatasaray defence. He grabbed the winner against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend but that was his first goal since mid-October. In between were a host of missed chances, including one against his former club with the score at 0-0. Arsenal went on to lose 2-1.
What Welbeck needs is some time with a clinical finisher cut from the same cloth who can teach him exactly how to harness those gifted powers and use them to his advantage. Henry was tall, pacey and awkward as a youngster. He transformed himself at Arsenal into an unstoppable force.
Welbeck retains all the essential traits that Henry did at the same age: height, strength, pace and basic technical ability. Using those to good effect is obviously trickier than it sounds, but it is something Henry mastered in his time.
The mentor Welbeck warrants
Henry said he wanted to help Arsenal win the Champions League and the best way for him to do that is to help create a genuine successor to his legacy in north London. Henry is an inspirational character–his statue outside the Emirates is testament to that–and he will certainly see Welbeck's potential. He is the mentor Welbeck warrants, a protege worthy of Henry's time.
It won't guarantee Welbeck's success, but it will give him the best chance of reaching his potential. That may not be equal to the heights that Henry eventually reached, but it will certainly give Wenger more than he bargained for when he gambled on him on transfer deadline day.
Louis van Gaal will be worried if Henry returns. Welbeck would have the chance to become much better than he ever could have at Old Trafford. It could end up being the dream partnership for Arsenal; a nightmare for Manchester United.
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