DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, December 4, 2022: England's Jordan Henderson (C) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between England and Senegal at the Al Bayt Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Best Hendo we’ve had” – How Liverpool captain is bringing best out of Bellingham

Gareth Southgate has explained how he believes Jordan Henderson is currently “the best version” of himself, and how his performances at the World Cup have benefited Liverpool target Jude Bellingham.

Both players were instrumental in England’s last 16 win over Senegal on Sunday, with Bellingham setting up the Reds’ skipper for their opener.

Much has been made of the good relationship between the pair in recent days, with Henderson courting a question over whether the Borussia Dortmund midfielder could be on his way to Anfield next year.

Having not started England’s first two group matches against Iran and USA, Henderson’s introduction into the midfield was vital against Wales and Senegal.

2M06EAA 4th December 2022; Al Bayt stadium, Doha, Qatar: FIFA World Cup football, final 16, England versus Senegal: Jordan Henderson of England celebrates scoring in the 38th minute for 1-0 with team mate Bellingham

And Southgate has now opened up on how the 32-year-old has complimented Bellingham’s game in those matches.

“I felt in the game against the United States, we were putting tremendous responsibility on Jude and that was a game which was difficult to work out the midfield, the pressing and the problem-solving, and we thought Jordan helped that and we think he’s giving Jude a bit more freedom,” Southgate said, as quoted by The Times.

“He does not need to be quite as positionally disciplined. At the moment, he’s still young and is still learning when to press and when not to press.

“The positive of that is he turns over so many balls and regains them for you.

“But it means we’ve got a bit of balance and this is the best version of Hendo we’ve had. He looks in good physical condition, touch wood.

“His influence on the group is fantastic, always has been. And to chip in with a goal, he really deserves that.”

On Monday, a video emerged online showing Bellingham sat with Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, before a fan asked him to join Real Madrid.

Henderson immediately intervened by saying “no, not Madrid,” and reports suggest Liverpool are doing everything they can to secure Bellingham’s signature.

Sky Germany’s Florian Plettenberg continues to report that Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s players are “still pushing” to make the deal happen, while Jan Aage Fjortoft has suggested the Reds have been working hard to get it done for some time.

Great to see Henderson getting some recognition for his performances in Qatar, and great to see plenty pointing out how well Bellingham plays alongside him, too.

Fingers crossed we’ll be seeing more of that partnership at Anfield in 2022…