Initial reports of interest in Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson from Saudi Arabia, and in particular from Al-Ettifaq and new manager (and former Liverpool captain) Steven Gerrard, were met with broad skepticism when they initially emerged.
Henderson to all appearances was fully focused on the upcoming season, set to be his 13th at the club, and ready for the challenge of competing for minutes with a pair of new big money signings. Meanwhile, journalists with ties to the club were quick to dismiss the rumours.
Now, though, it appears that there could be something to it. Which may not mean that Henderson is on the verge of a move. But the interest is legitimate, and Henderson will apparently have a choice to make about his future in the coming days.
In The Telegraph, Chris Bascombe says Henderson is “wrestling with the dilemma” though as yet there has been no formal bid. In The Times, Paul Joyce says interest has intensified but a bid would not arrive “unless he was to indicate he was willing to leave.” In The Echo, Ian Doyle adds that Saudi clubs other than Al-Ettifaq are also interested.
For a player who has spent as many years at Liverpool as Henderson and has won as much as he has—including the club’s first league title of the Premier League era and number 19 overall and the Reds’ sixth European Cup—to leave at this stage would be a shock.
It would mean no chance to help the club rebound from a disappointing 2022-23 season and it would mean no big send-off at Anfield of the likes Roberto Firmino recently received. Meanwhile, Henderson in training appears in the best shape of his career.
He also has a history of being vocal about causes that would make a Saudi move more awkward than for some players, and did not grow up in extreme poverty the way some South American and African players have and that many point to as a motivating and justifying factor in moving to the upstart Saudi sportswashing league.
We will have to see, then, where this all goes from here, and if one were a betting man it might perhaps still be wisest to put one’s money on Henderson remaining at Liverpool for the coming season. But there’s doubt there now, and it’s real.