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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 21, 2006

Gunners rejected world record bids for Henry

Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has revealed the club turned down two world-record bids of £50million for Thierry Henry.

The France striker signed a new four-year contract on Friday after months of speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.

Real Madrid were also reported to be interested in signing the star forward and Dein confirmed both offers came from Spain.

'We turned down world-record deals for Thierry from two Spanish clubs - and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work who they were,' he told the Sunday Express.

'The two clubs in question don't like to be outbid by each other. They were ready to go for it.

'Our message was clear. He wasn't for sale and I like to think Thierry heard that.' • Meanwhile, Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein has admitted the club came close to losing star striker Henry.

The 28-year-old Frenchman signed a new four-year deal last week to end speculation over a big-money move to Spain.

Dein has revealed the Gunners turned down two £50million offers for their star man and when asked if Henry had come close to leaving, he said: 'I think he probably did.

'And of course, he only made his decision on Thursday evening and we were on tenterhooks for the best part of six to eight months.

'I don't know whether he did (talk to another club), but it was quite clear because we had two of the biggest Spanish clubs in touch with us wanting to know what was going to happen to his career at the end of the season.

'Obviously, we were not in a selling mode. We wanted to keep Thierry, we believed Thierry had to be part of our future and we were going to do everything possible to make him stay at Arsenal.'

Henry finally told manager Arsene Wenger he was staying on Thursday, 24 hours after his Champions League dream was ended by Barcelona, one of his possible destinations.

Dein sensed what his decision was as the meeting got under way.

'He rationalised on what went through his mind, and it was clear to us right from the onset that he was going to stay,' he told the BBC.

'He told us how he felt and that he obviously wanted to be part of the club. He was very, very positive and enlightening, refreshing.'

Henry admitted after signing the contract that the fans - and not just those of his own club - had helped make up his mind.

'I think it was a combination of factors,' said Dein. 'Thierry, firstly, is a very intelligent man. He would have weighed up his decision very, very carefully.

'He always said he was going to make his decision at the end of the season before the World Cup, and indeed he did.

'I think there were several issues; one, his family. He obviously cares very much about the quality of his domestic life and the fact that his wife - he has a little child now born in England - wants to stay in London.

'He clearly loves the club. He's been here seven years, and I think he respects the fans.

'He made a big point to Arsene (Wenger) and myself of how much he respects the fans, and indeed the fans away from home.

'We play at Portsmouth and Sunderland and he gets a standing ovation. I'm not sure he'd get that necessarily if he were to go abroad.

'Then finally, he saw the team - whereas he might have had some doubts at some stage in the season - he actually saw the young team emerging, something for the future.

'And put on top of that the ambition where he can see the new stadium, 60,000 all-seater which will be full, he wants to lead the team out as captain.'

Dein declined to comment on Robert Pires' situation as speculation mounts the winger has played his final game for the club, but forecast that Henry's retention will help Wenger strengthen his squad this summer.

'We are in the time now where there will be certain changes and I can't tell you what they are going to be,' he said.

'But we are looking to bring in maybe one or two new players and it may be that one or two decide it's time to move on.

'But this happens every year, every close season. It's never a quiet period, but I can't tell you anything further than that at the moment.

'You don't get a player of Thierry's quality easily, and quite obviously, his skill improves our team.

'It also causes some little concern, I would think, to the opposition and helps attract new talent coming to the club.'