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By ESPN Staff

Henry vows to stay put

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Arsenal captain Thierry Henry has ended speculation about his future by pledging to remain with the north London team.

'The truth is I love this club and I have made up my mind to stay,' the France striker was quoted as saying in The Sun newspaper on Saturday.

'I can say to all my fans and the people who care about me, I want to lead the team out in the new stadium (next season). I'll talk to (manager) Arsene Wenger, to (vice-chairman) David Dein and the board and talk of the future.

'My mind is to stay and we have to sort this out.'

Henry's contract ends in 18 months' time and he had previously said that he would not decide whether to sign a new deal until the end of this season, leading to strong links with Spanish champions Barcelona.

'There was a lot of ridiculous speculation,' Henry told The Sun. 'But the truth is this, I never spoke with or met with a single person from any other club at any time.

'This will put an end to all the stories. We can move on.'

Henry, who will be rested when Arsenal host second division Cardiff City in the third round of the FA Cup later on Saturday, said the reaction of the fans played an important role in his decision.

'Obviously I did think about leaving Arsenal. It's a big decision because I thought if I do commit to this club, it could be for life,' he said.

'I am still only 28. But when I see the fans and the way they talk to me, it helped make my decision.

'They didn't boo me or make life difficult for me on the pitch. In other countries you could play for a team for 10 years and if you say, 'can I have time to think about my future?', the fans would go mad.'

Henry joined Arsenal from Juventus in August 1999 and became the top scorer in the club's history this season.

There was more good news for Wenger's side when Dutch international striker Robin van Persie agreed a new five-year deal with the club.

'I am very happy that I have extended my contract to 2011,' the 22-year-old van Persie told Arsenal's website.

'I am very happy too with my team mates and the boss (Wenger). In fact a lot of my progress is down to him and his faith in me.'

Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League, 24 points behind leaders Chelsea.