The Reds find themselves at a pivotal juncture when it comes to the core of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad, with 15 players seeing their contracts expire in 2023.
James Pearce, a leading Liverpool journalist, and the well-connected David Ornstein paint the picture of a “delicate balancing act,” with “no real progress” made in early talks.
“Negotiations haven’t broken down and sources stress that dialogue is ongoing,” the report reads, “but it’s both a complicated and sensitive situation.”
Key issues come with Henderson’s age, given he will be 33 by the time his current deal expires, and a similar scenario playing out with Gini Wijnaldum, who left on a free transfer this summer at 30.
It is also added that “if this was Klopp’s call alone, then talks over an extension would have been a formality and an agreement would already have been signed.”
The club’s “policy of investing in youth” is said to be making negotiations tougher.
That Liverpool have opened talks with Henderson over an extension is encouraging, though, and it is stressed that for the captain, “this isn’t about money, this is about feeling wanted.”
Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid are credited as admirers of the 31-year-old, but the suggestion he is “good friends” with Luis Suarez and the striker “would relish the prospect of being reunited with his former Liverpool team-mate” at Atletico is a strange one.
In fact, while the report covers most bases, it is certainly a questionable one as it is largely centred on conjecture and the hypothetical situation that assumes he would be treated in the same way as Wijnaldum.
A comparison is also made with the way in which Steven Gerrard’s contract talks were conducted at 34, with a 15-minute meeting held that saw him offered a one-year deal with a 40 percent pay cut and a reduced playing role.
On that note, Henderson “believes he can play at the highest level into his mid-30s and is not interested in a managed decline.”
In all likelihood, if the midfielder can prove his fitness and continued worth over the next season, he will follow the blueprint of James Milner instead, with the veteran now in the final year of a deal that will take him beyond his 36th birthday.
As it stands, there is little to worry about, particularly as these talks appear to have been held while Henderson has been at the Euros – so no wonder there has been “no real progress.”