Henry used Wenger contract talks 'as an excuse to leave'

Last updated at 13:30 27 June 2007


Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has dismissed as "an excuse" Thierry Henry's claims that uncertainty surrounding Arsene Wenger's future prompted his decision to join Barcelona.

Henry completed a £16million switch to the Nou Camp on Monday, 12 months after

spurning the Catalan club in favour of remaining with the Gunners.

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Thierry Henry salutes Barca fans

The France striker decided to move on this week, though, and revealed the

situation at the club following vice-chairman David Dein's departure last

season, and the apparent uncertainty over Wenger's future as manager, were

reasons behind his decision.

Hill-Wood, however, insisted "I am not particularly worried

about what Thierry said but whether it really influenced his decision or not we

will have to wait and see.

"We certainly don't think Thierry Henry going and Arsene Wenger's contract

situation are in any way linked. That was just an excuse."

Wenger, who has a year remaining on his contract, continues to be linked with a

move away from the Emirates Stadium - with Barcelona the club most regularly

linked - but Hill-Wood hopes the French coach will remain in north London, even

if he does not sign a new deal this summer.

"I am really hopeful he will extend but at this moment I am only in a position

of hoping," said Hill-Wood. "I've no reason to think that he won't but at the

same time I have no reason to believe he will say yes. Certainly we would like

to see him sign a new contract - we have made no secret about that.

"But we have not talked any details about anything with him or the board. We

will wait and see what he wants to do. Then we can sit down and discuss things

if he is positive about it. I am very relaxed. We are in good shape."

Hill-Wood, who also said Arsenal "would like to find another player or two"

in the transfer market, revealed he has not met with American tycoon Stan

Kroenke since their meeting in New York recently.

Kroenke has a 12.19 per cent stake in the club and is expected to mount a full takeover

bid but that prospect is another area of uncertainty.

"I have not heard anything further from him [Kroenke] since we met," said

Hill-Wood.

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