Henry should return to Arsenal in non-playing role, says Usmanov

With the Gunners suffering their worst start to a Premier League campaign in Arsene Wenger's 16 years in charge, the shareholder feels the striker can change the club's soul
Arsenal's second-largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov believes the return of legend Thierry Henry in a non-playing capacity can change the club's "soul".

The 35-year-old has been training at the Gunners' London Colney base since the conclusion of the MLS season and Goal.com exclusively revealed on December 5 that Henry has agreed to rejoin the Gunners for a second loan spell, with the club suffering their worst-ever start to a league season in Arsene Wenger's 16 years in charge.

12/1 Arsenal are 12/1 to draw 2-2 with Reading with bet365
But Usmanov feels "a more important" backroom role would aid Arsenal further than playing time on the pitch, and highlighted the impact that Patrick Vieira - another former player held in high regard at the Emirates Stadium - has had at Manchester City.

"I don't have any powers in terms of decisions at the club but there are a few players with whom I am in contact," Usmanov told L'Equipe.

"My favourite is probably Thierry Henry. Thierry should be involved at the club but not as a player. He has another role to play, a more important role. Take the example of Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but he is helping another club. We have to avoid that with Thierry."

Henry scored twice in seven appearances for Arsenal in a short-term loan deal last season but, despite this success, Usmanov feels a similar deal will not reap the same rewards.

He continued: "The presence of a champion can radically change the soul of a team. That’s what Thierry showed last year when he came back to Arsenal but I think that comebacks only succeed once. That’s why I think the decision to come back belongs only to Thierry Henry."