REPORT: Ex-Liverpool captain Henderson desperate to leave Saudi Arabia, regrets ₦700m-a-week summer move

Jordan Henderson and ex-Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko

REPORT: Ex-Liverpool captain Henderson desperate to leave Saudi Arabia, regrets ₦700m-a-week summer move

Ayoola Kelechi 15:56 - 07.01.2024

Life in Saudi Arabia has apparently not been a bed of Roses for former Liverpool star Jordan Henderson

In an unforeseen turn of events, former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson finds himself eager to make a hasty exit from Saudi Arabian side Al Ettifaq, just months after completing a £12 million transfer last summer. 

The England midfielder's struggles, both on and off the field, have prompted him to seriously consider any offers that may come his way in the January transfer window, despite the potential financial implications.

Henderson's challenges at Al Ettifaq

Henderson's decision to join Al Ettifaq was influenced by manager Steven Gerrard, a familiar face from his days at Liverpool. However, the move has not unfolded as planned, with the club enduring a dismal run of eight winless matches since November.

The pressure on Gerrard has intensified, further complicating Henderson's experience at the Dammam-based club.

Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson || X/@Ettifaq_EN
Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson || X/@Ettifaq_EN

Assistant manager Ian Foster's recent resignation to take charge at Championship Plymouth Argyle adds to the turmoil within the team, signalling potential unrest behind the scenes. Foster and Gerrard were instrumental in persuading Henderson to make the surprising switch to the Saudi Pro League, a decision that has now left the player questioning his choices.

Adjusting to a New Lifestyle:

Beyond the football pitch, Henderson has faced challenges adjusting to the lifestyle in Saudi Arabia. The climate, characterised by intense heat and humidity, has proven to be a hurdle, affecting both his performance and overall comfort. 

Jordan Henderson signs for Al Ettifaq

Additionally, the less-than-inspiring average attendance of 7,800 in a 35,000-capacity stadium has contributed to a less-than-ideal environment for the veteran midfielder.

Criticism and Personal Struggles:

Henderson's move to Saudi Arabia has not been without controversy. Criticized as an alleged betrayal of the LGBTQ+ community, the midfielder has endured significant abuse for his decision. 

England's Gareth Southgate and Jordan Henderson | Imago

The toll of this criticism, combined with the challenges on the field and off, has reportedly left Henderson discontented and contemplating his options.

Potential Return to the Premier League

Sources suggest that Henderson is open to a return to the Premier League, even if it means taking a major pay cut and facing significant tax implications. While his reported salary at Al Ettifaq stands at an extraordinary £700,000-a-week, the tax-free element only applies if he honors the first two years of his contract. Returning to England after six months could result in a substantial tax bill of around £7 million.

Jordan Henderson dejected after the defeat to Real Madrid
Jordan Henderson dejected after a defeat to Real Madrid

Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Fulham, and Newcastle are said to be in the market for central midfielders, presenting potential destinations for Henderson if a suitable offer arises. A return to the Premier League would not only address his current dissatisfaction but also boost his chances of making Gareth Southgate's squad for the upcoming European Championship.

As the January transfer window unfolds, Jordan Henderson's desire to leave Al Ettifaq becomes a significant storyline. Whether a Premier League club can provide an appealing offer amidst financial constraints remains to be seen. The midfielder's decision, influenced by a mix of on-field struggles, personal challenges, and the desire for a swift return to familiar territory, adds an unexpected twist to his footballing journey.

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