Thierry Henry – Arsenal / Getty
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 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.
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.”