Jordan Henderson left Liverpool after 12 seasons for Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq in a £12 million deal earlier this summer, and while the decision of the England international midfielder surprised many, he has told The Athletic that he no longer felt wanted at a point.
The former Sunderland star still had two more years left on the contract extension he penned in August 2021 and had been the Reds captain since 2015.
However, Henderson decided it was time to leave following talks with manager Jurgen Klopp and the club upon the approach from the Saudis, and he has since been reunited with the manager of Ettifaq Steven Gerrard.
“There were a few things that sent alarm bells ringing,” the 33-year-old replied when asked what led to his decision.
“I’ve got a very good relationship with Jurgen. He was very honest with me. I won’t go into detail about the conversation because it’s private, but it put me in a position where I knew that I wasn’t going to be playing as much. I knew there were going to be new players coming in my position.
“And if I’m not playing, as anybody will know, especially the manager, that can be quite difficult for me and especially when I’ve been at a club for so long, I’ve captained the team for so long. Especially when England’s a big thing for me. You’ve got the Euros coming up. And then there was an approach from Al-Ettifaq to the club to see if it would be possible for me to go there.
“The reaction from the club again wasn’t to say no. At that moment I felt as though my value or the want for me to stay, with the manager and within the club, maybe it had shifted. I knew that time would come at some point. I didn’t think it would be now. And I had to accept that.
“If one of those people said to me, “Now we want you to stay”, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And I have to then think about what’s next for me in my career. Now, that’s not to say that they forced me out of the club or they were saying they wanted me to leave but at no point did I feel wanted by the club or anyone to stay.”
The Anfield club also lost Fabinho afterwards and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Naby Keita left after their deals expired.
Liverpool were forced to rebuild their midfield as a result and have since added Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo to the department, with Dutch sensation Ryan Gravenberch also joining from Bayern Munich on transfer deadline day.
Henderson ended his Liverpool career with 492 appearances across all competitions, winning one Premier League title, one FA Cup, two Carabao Cups, one Community Shield, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup, and he will be remembered as one of their best midfielders in history.
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