Liverpool’s expected midfield rebuild is on the verge of turning into a demolition job following news that Al-Ittihad was prepared to bid £40M to sign Fabinho a day after news broke that Jordan Henderson was strongly considering joining Al-Ettifaq.
If both were to depart, it would leave Thiago Alcantara as the only midfielder older than 24 in the squad, with new signing Alexis Mac Allister being said 24-year-old and U21 Euros winner Curtis Jones then becoming the third oldest midfielder at the club.
For most, signing 19-year-old Roméo Lavia from Southampton—a player with one season of top flight experience who, as one might expect, looks far from the finished product—as the club’s new midfield anchor would fall far short of requirement in that situation.
Liverpool, though, have signalled they wouldn’t stand in the way if their players do want to depart and a suitable fee arrives. In Henderson’s case, a claim from Fabrizio Romano that the club’s current captain could leave for just £10M seems questionable.
This is especially the case given reports yesterday were that the £17M Chelsea received for Kalidou Koulibaly would be insufficient—a view backed up by The Mail’s Dominic King, who has rejected the idea that £10M would be seen as a suitable transfer fee.
Talk of such a low fee for Henderson would be expected in this case to come from the Saudi end. If Al-Ettifaq truly are prepared to offer the player £700k per week, though, one would certainly expect Liverpool to hold out for something more significant.
As for Henderson, if he does follow the money to Al-Ettifaq despite having been one of Liverpool’s top earners for over a decade, many will see an already unimaginably rich man abandoning his previously claimed morals in search of even greater wealth.
“When you see something that is clearly wrong and makes another human being feel excluded you should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” Henderson said in 2019 about his at the time unexpectedly vocal support of the Rainbow Laces campaign.
“You also have a responsibility to educate yourself better. That’s where my own position on homophobia in football is rooted. Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me.
“The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind. We know this because they tell us. So we should listen, support them and work to make it better.”
Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia have asked for the death penalty for those facing charges of homosexuality as recently as 2016, and individuals arrested for running afoul of the laws continue to be subjected to solitary confinement, beatings, and torture.