Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will leave their training camp in Germany after the Merseyside club and Al Ettifaq agreed a deal in principle that will see the midfielder move to the Saudi Arabian side.
Henderson has already agreed a three-year contract worth close to £700,000 ($917,000) per week with Al Ettifaq, who are managed by the 33-year-old’s former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard.
But a deal still needed to be agreed between the clubs with club captain Henderson still having two years left on the four-year contract he signed in the summer of 2021.
Henderson travelled with his team-mates to Germany on Saturday. He was not included in the squad for their game against Karlsruher on Wednesday afternoon.
Gerrard was appointed earlier this month as Al Ettifaq’s new manager and has played a key role in driving the pursuit of Henderson.
The England international has been a leader off the pitch for Liverpool and England too, being one of the most vocal players in support of the LGBTQI+ community and fans. Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and Liverpool’s Kop Outs supporters’ group said it would be “appalled” if a proposed transfer materialised.
Henderson joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011 and was appointed club captain after Gerrard’s departure in 2015. He has been a constant in the Liverpool side since his arrival, making 492 appearances in all competitions.
Henderson played 43 times for Liverpool last season, making 23 starts in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp’s side finished fifth.
Jordan Henderson had the trust of my community. Then he broke it
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Henderson’s team-mate Fabinho was left out Liverpool’s travelling party to Germany after Saudi club Al Ittihad tabled a £40million ($52m) bid for the Brazil international.
Liverpool’s midfield is already undergoing a considerable refresh this offseason with Alexis Mac Allister of Brighton and Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig already arriving. They are also interested in a move for Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure.
James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left at the end of their contracts in June while Fabio Carvalho has joined RB Leipzig on a season-long loan.
The Saudi Pro League has emerged as a destination for several European stars after the Public Investment Fund takeover of Al Hilal, Al Nassr, Al Ittihad and Al Ahli.
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al Nassr back in December, with his former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema making a shock move to Al Ittihad in early June.
Henderson’s former Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino signed for Al Ahli last week after his contract with the Premier League side expired. Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy have all also moved to the Gulf state.
What now for Liverpool’s midfield?
Analysis by Andy Jones
The possible exits of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson would leave Liverpool looking light in midfield. Added to that, Fabio Carvalho has joined RB Leipzig on loan.
Jurgen Klopp has largely rebuilt that area this summer with the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai for a combined fee of around £95million ($123m) following the exits of Milner, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arthur Melo.
The versatile new duo should provide a sizeable injection of energy and creativity, but Liverpool haven’t yet brought in a specialist defensive midfielder. That may need to change.
If Liverpool continue with the 3-box-3 system they finished the season in, Mac Allister profiles as the ideal left-sided No 10 and Szoboszlai the right-sided No 10.
However, should either, or both, Henderson and Fabinho move on then changes will need to be made.
They retain an interest in Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, as well as Doucoure, but believe the Belgian teenager is significantly overpriced at £50m.
There is also Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott. They had very different campaigns last season, but could have their progress slowed by the signings of Mac Allister and Szoboszlai.
Though Klopp has brought in new faces, the possible loss of such experience in midfield will need to be filled.
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(Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)