Arsenal 'agree' Henry loan and line up Llorente in the summer
Gunners could make a big money bid for Spanish striker – but first it's welcome back to Thierry
HE'S BACK. Thierry Henry will return to Arsenal for a third spell in the new year, if a report on Goal.com is to be believed. The website says that the "sensational" deal has been agreed, but only "in principle".
The veteran New York Red Bulls striker, who scored 228 goals in 376 appearance for the Gunners in his first two stints, impressed Wenger so much when he returned to train with Arsenal at the end of the MLS season that he has decided he wants him back in 2013.
Last year's deal was held up by wrangling over the terms of the loan, but Goal reports that this time round negotiations are further developed than before and that Henry is likely to be available from 1 January until the middle of February.
That's the winter sorted then, and if the Gunners can somehow stay afloat until the summer there could be more reinforcements on the horizon.
Spanish striker Fernando Llorente has confirmed he'll be leaving Athletic Bilbao in the summer, prompting The Daily Telegraph to claim the news has put Arsenal "on alert".
The Gunners have long been interested in the 27-year-old frontman and the Telegraph says a big money move could be in the pipeline, quoting the player's agent, Carlos Arino Bajo, as saying it was "very, very possible" that his client will be on his way to England.
Llorente, who goes by the nickname 'The Lion King' announced to the world on Tuesday that: "I am going to leave on June 30. I want to develop as a player and try something new."
If that's the case, why not try Arsenal, where each week brings a new way to taste defeat, as seen last night with the Gunners throwing away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to Olympiakos.
Asked why he was leaving, Llorente replied, "It isn't about money", explaining that he received a handsome offer from Bilbao to extend his contract. "There is a sector of the crowd who do not want me but I feel loved by the majority," he added.
Meanwhile Barcelona playmaker Ibrahim Afellay has told German rag Bild that he wants to make his move to Schalke permanent, rather than pursue an opportunity to play in the Premier League.
Arsenal and Liverpool have both been linked with the 26-year-old midfielder even though the Dutchman was loaned out to German outfit Schalke in the summer. That was just for the season, but Afellay loves life in the Bundesliga so much he now wants to make it his home. "I feel very comfortable at Schalke," he told Bild. "At the season's end, we'll talk about a permanent deal."
Another player who looks likely to remain in the Bundesliga is Bayer Leverkusen star Andre Schurrle. Chelsea have been chasing the frontman for several months but according to the Metro the 22-year-old is remaining in Germany – for the time being at least.
Roberto Di Matteo first identified Schurrle as the man to replace flop Fernando Torres, and though he's no longer the Chelsea coach it's believed the Blues still see the German as the man to do a job at the Bridge.
However, Schurrle's father, Joachim, is quoted by the Metro dampening speculation that a move could be completed next month. "Until next summer, there is no reason to move," said Schurrle senior. "Moving clubs before the summer is not an issue. Andre very much likes being at Bayer Leverkusen… We all simply have to wait and see." Schurrle comes with a £28m price tag, but Chelsea are said to be optimistic they can get him for "significantly less."
Is that why Daniel Sturidge may be leaving Chelsea? As goal.com reports, rumours have been gathering pace in recent weeks suggesting the England striker is off to pastures new, and Sturridge's management team took the extraordinary step on Tuesday of releasing a statement concerning his future, in particular the claims that he is set to move to Liverpool provided the Reds meet his wage demands of £80,000-a-week.
"Daniel Sturridge does not conduct his business in public," said agency Octagon. "He also does not make demands in any negotiation, with regards to salary or his playing position."
However, it's believed that Sturridge is close to finalising terms for a move to Anfield. ·