England midfielder Henderson close to joining Ajax

17 January 2024 0 By Total Football News

Jordan Henderson playing for Al-EttifaqJordan Henderson began his career at hometown club Sunderland before joining Liverpool in 2011

England midfielder Jordan Henderson is close to joining Ajax in a permanent move, with his contract at Saudi club Al-Ettifaq set to be terminated.

Preparations are being made for his arrival in Amsterdam but no deal has yet been concluded.

The midfielder, 33, signed a three-year contract worth a reported £700,000 a week with Al-Ettifaq when he left Liverpool in a £12m deal in July.

However, reports have suggested he is unhappy and wants to return to Europe.

Henderson linked up with ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who is Al-Ettifaq manager, but appears to be heading back to Europe, having made just 17 appearances in the Saudi Pro League.

The former Sunderland trainee, who was a prominent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community during his time at Anfield, was criticised by many for moving to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.

He said he was “really hurt” by the criticism, adding his intention has always been to “help causes and communities”.

In an interview with The Athletic, Henderson said about his reported salary: “The numbers just aren’t true.. it’s good money and it was a good deal but it wasn’t the numbers that were reported.”

Some England fans booed Henderson in his first game back in the country during the Three Lions’ friendly win over Australia at Wembley in October.

Saudi Arabian Pro League clubs made 94 signings in a remarkable £750m spending spree last summer. Henderson is set to be the first major name to leave, although BBC Sport has been told French star Karim Benzema also has doubts about staying at Al-Ittihad having joined the Jeddah club on a three-year deal in June.

Saudi Pro League bosses are understood not to be concerned by Henderson’s impending exit from Al-Ettifaq.

The financial implications of his departure are said to be “positive” for the Saudis, who respect that he was not settled.

BBC Sport has been told the league worked quickly to resolve the situation amicably, with no-one being blamed for the way things have worked out.

Ajax have endured a difficult campaign so far and find themselves in fifth place, 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven.

Should the deal be concluded swiftly, Henderson could make his debut for the Dutch giants against RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie on Sunday.

Ajax is a good club for him to go to and play for – Analysis

Former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam on BBC Radio 5 Live:

“It boils down to, is this move about getting back into the England squad for the Euros in the summer? Ultimately, he made the move and was criticised for it, but to walk away within six months is a big decision.

“It is a footballing decision, not financial.

“He’s obviously had a chat with his family and what they think, and with [England manager] Gareth [Southgate] about his chances of making the team, but if you were part of the Saudi League who made this investment in him you would be left feeling disappointed.

“That’s football, there is no real loyalty in the game. If a club wants to get rid of you then they sell you, if you’re a player and you want to move, you make it happen.

“Am I surprised? A little yes, but ultimately, knowing Jordan, it is purely about getting into that England squad for the European Championships.

“Jordan is moving on to a club in Ajax that struggled at the start of the season but have picked up in recent months and it is a good club for him to go to and play for, and hopefully get picked for the England squad in the summer.”

Former Everton midfielder Leon Osman on BBC Radio 5 Live:

“I was initially surprised because if you sign a deal to go somewhere you are expected to see out more than six months before you leave, but maybe the Saudi Pro League don’t want to be seen as holding players to ransom.

“If you are trying to entice others to go out there and try out the experience, then players will be put off the idea if they don’t settle and then have to stay for the entirety of a three or four year deal.

“Even if they have some quality players out there, the general standard is not very high and maybe Gareth Southgate has taken that into account in conversations with him.”