Tuesday 22 May 2018

Henry steps up to assist Martinez with Belgium

Thierry Henry Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Thierry Henry Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Matt Law

Thierry Henry has landed his first major coaching role, as assistant manager to Roberto Martinez with the Belgium national team.

The former Arsenal striker will combine the role with his work as a Sky pundit, in much the same way Gary Neville did with England. The move is a major coup for both Belgium and Henry, who will also use the job to work towards gaining his Uefa Pro Licence.

It is understood news of Henry's appointment has gone down well with Belgium's players, particularly the forwards, many of whom idolised Henry when they were growing up. Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke had posters of Henry on his bedroom wall and, along with Everton's Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi, will now work with his hero.

Henry has been looking for a coaching job since Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would not allow him to combine his Sky work with a role with the club's U-18 side.

His first game as No 2 to former Everton boss Martinez will be Thursday's friendly against Spain in Brussels .

Henry said: "I feel honoured to be offered and accept the role of assistant coach of the Belgium national team. I can't wait."

Five days after the Spain friendly, Belgium start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Cyprus.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have turned to Fiorentina left-back Marcos Alonso in their increasingly urgent attempt to strengthen their defensive options as Antonio Conte admitted the club may not land their top targets before the transfer window shuts next week.

Chelsea have opened talks with Fiorentina over Alonso, who has previously played in England for Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland, with the Italian club demanding £21m.

Conte wants to add two defenders and possibly a midfielder to his squad before the transfer window closes on Wednesday but has hit a wall in attempting to land many of his first choices.

Chelsea have failed with big bids for central defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli, with respectively Napoli and AC Milan so far refusing to sell, but hope to have more success in their move for Alonso.

Conte wants a full-back to provide competition and cover for Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic.

While he may not be a stellar name, Alonso would alleviate some of Chelsea's problems as the 25-year-old would give Conte the option of moving Ivanovic into the middle or playing three at the back.

Despite making a move for Alonso, Chelsea, who are at home to Burnley today, are still actively seeking a central defender, although top-quality options appear to be in short supply.

Torino's Nikola Maksimovic is one potential alternative to Koulibaly and Romagnoli. Sources in Italy also claim Chelsea have made an inquiry over Inter Milan's Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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