Six months after leaving Liverpool, Jordan Henderson's spell in the Saudi Professional League appears to be coming to an end.
Paul Joyce reports in The Times that the former Liverpool captain is leaving Al-Ettifaq training camp in Abu Dhabi and returning to England. This happens after talks with technical director Steven Gerrard.
Henderson is said to have reached an agreement with Ajax over a transfer, but a lot of paperwork remains before the deal is completed. David Orenstein reports in The Athletic.
At the weekend, Ajax confirmed there had been talks with Henderson. Ajax is going through one of its weakest seasons in a long time, and is ranked fifth in the Dutch League, 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven, after only 17 rounds of the league.
to update: Fabrizio Romano writes Jordan Henderson will travel to Amsterdam before the end of the week to complete his move to Ajax. All parties are working to put the final details of the contract into effect. They are now preparing the medical examination, and waiting for the green light to proceed.
Earlier this month, a joint English press corps reported that Henderson wanted out of Saudi Arabia, even if it meant giving up large sums of money. It became clear early on that a return to Liverpool was not relevant, and clubs such as Newcastle and Chelsea were mentioned, but interest did not appear to be that great. It could also mean he would have to pay a huge tax bill of up to seven million pounds if he returns to the Premier League, as British tax rules stipulate that you have to pay 45 percent tax if you return within a specified period of time. year. This may also be the reason why he has now ended up in Dutch football.
It now appears that his wish to leave the agreement will be fulfilled after only six months. Henderson is still in the national team under Gareth Southgate, and hopes to represent England at this summer's European Championship in Germany.
Only 17 matches in Saudi Arabia
Henderson remained at Liverpool for 12 years, and had a contract until 2025 at Anfield before joining the Al-Ettifaq club, which includes Gerrard, last summer.
The Reds paid £12m for their captain, who was reportedly on a £700,000 salary at the Saudi Professional League club. He played 17 matches in Saudi Arabia, where the team ranks eighth in the standings.
According to The Times, he struggled to settle in the country with his family, and became desperate to return to Europe. Initially, Al-Ettifaq did not want to let him go, but that is said to have changed in the last 24 hours after he attended training camp on Sunday. On Tuesday, he was said to have returned to the UK.
The 33-year-old was awarded the title of “Captain Commander” in the English Premier League, after the leadership role he played during the Corona pandemic and in supporting the British health authorities, the NHS. He has been at the forefront of supporting many important causes, including Rainbow Laces, and his choice to go to Saudi Arabia has been heavily criticized. His attempts to justify this were not successful either.
When he gave his first interview after the transfer before an England international, the criticism became stronger – because he could not say outright that he had chosen to go there for the money.
-I love football so I want to try to help them grow all over the world. I know that people in Saudi Arabia love football. We hope that we can continue to develop the league over the next few years. I hope to be a part of it.
Klopp could not promise him playing time
Much has been said and written about the background to Henderson's desire to leave Liverpool last summer. It was the summer when midfielders such as James Milner, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left the club, and the Reds had to build an entirely new midfield.
Henderson played 43 matches for Liverpool last season, but stated that he did not feel wanted at the club.
– If someone at the club had said to me: “We want you to stay here,” we would not have had this conversation. He said: “This does not necessarily mean that they expelled me from the club or said that they wanted me to leave, but at no time did I feel that the club or anyone else wanted me to stay.”
After that, Jurgen Klopp was asked about the interview, and then the technical director revealed the details of the conversation that took place between him and Henderson.
– I read the interview, and Hindu told the truth. We had talks and I told Hendo that I wanted him to stay, but I also said that I couldn't guarantee that he would play regularly because we were bringing in new players. I cannot tell a player before the season that he is guaranteed to play 50 games, because that depends on performance. “For my part, it was important to be open about everything, including what will happen if you are not allowed to play regularly,” Klopp said.
– That's why we had to talk about it. He was my team captain for about eight years and I didn't want to wake up one morning and lose my friendship because he thought he was promised a match from the start. For Hindu, this may have seemed like a no-brainer here, which I understand, but we've made that clear. He would have stayed if you had guaranteed him regular playing in midfield. But I can't promise that, even if I don't want him to go. So it was better for him to leave.
Jordan Henderson joined Liverpool in 2011 and played 492 games for the club, including 268 as captain. He scored 33 goals and helped win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup, Super Cup, FA Cup and League Cup twice with the Reds. He was voted English Footballer of the Year by sports journalists for 2020.
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