Arsene Wenger can understand Thierry Henry's delay in holding talks over a new contract - because the decision holds the key to the rest of his career.
However, the Arsenal boss reiterated his belief that the French international will sign a new deal this summer as he called on him to end his career at the club.
Henry, 28, insists he will not hold talks over an extension to his current deal, which expires in 18 months' time, until the end of this season.
That has prompted chairman Peter Hill-Wood to admit his fear that Henry will leave Highbury, with Barcelona said to be waiting in the wings.
Club legend Ian Wright revealed that "my gut feeling is Thierry is going to leave and, if I was in the same position, I would".
Wenger refused to criticise Wright's intervention into the debate, remarking simply that "Wrighty is entitled to have an opinion but it does not mean he is right".
And the Arsenal boss added: "You have to accept when players are close to 29, it is their last contract and they wonder 'what do I do now?'
"You have to accept that. It is healthy. I would not rush him into a decision. He has to do it when he is ready. You want your players to be committed to it when they do it because they really believe it.
"Some players want to focus on their season. If Henry makes a decision [at this age], it means his entire life will be spent at Arsenal or somewhere else.
"I want Thierry to stay here for the rest of his career. He will be a legend for this club and could make his life a whole Arsenal achievement.
"I can understand a player who wants to move every year but I can also understand a player who wants to have an impact on the life of a club for the whole history of the club.
"I would like him to stay and I am confident we can achieve that. But I respect the players.
"Jens Lehmann and Robert Pires only have six months to go on their contracts but nobody questions their commitment. So why should you question Thierry's commitment?"
Wenger is already considering a complaint to FIFA over reported comments by Barcelona president Joan Laporta at a fans' forum, targeting Henry as a potential signing.
Reports have now claimed Henry has been in regular touch with Barcelona - a claim hotly denied by Wenger as he defended the reputation of his captain, who is rested from the FA Cup third round tie against Cardiff.
"I know Thierry Henry well. He is straight and honest. He would never do that behind our back. When he is ready, a decision will be made," insisted Wenger.
"But to question his attitude towards the club or his honesty is unfair. He's not allowed to talk to another club and he'd never do that."