3 pros and 3 cons of Jordan Henderson making legacy-changing Saudi decision

Jordan Henderson and Saudi Arabia, a combination that could see the 33-year-old reunited with Steven Gerrard – but what are the positives and negatives of a potential move for the club?

By the time the 2023/24 season starts, Liverpool’s captain’s armband could well don the arm of someone other than Henderson on a permanent basis.

Despite the grumblings of some, a departure did not realistically feel on the cards at the start of the summer, but now four weeks out from the first game, it is a reality that feels within reach.

Henderson has reportedly been offered an astronical wage to join Al Ettifaq, but the club will be seeking at least £20 million if they are to let him go.

The story has been fast moving and here we look at the pros and cons of Henderson making the move.


PRO – Financial benefit for the club

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 30, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (L) and manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Community Shield friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Firstly, another high earner would be moved on – Henderson earns in the region of £190,000 per week – adding to the £500,000 freed up with the expiration of contracts this summer.

Some of this has already been funnelled back into the squad after signing Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, but the pot would still have plenty in it for more signings as Henderson’s current deal runs until 2025.

The transfer fee, then, would go hand in hand with being reinvested back into the squad, for a younger player to form part of Klopp’s rebuild.


CON – Losing a key leader

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 6, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson reacts during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He’s not captain for nothing. You can hear him before you see him, Henderson is never short on a word on the pitch, either praising, lambasting or encouraging his teammates.

The veteran sets the standards and with James Milner having already left the club, it is a sizeable hole to fill for Klopp and Co.

He has led with distinction on and off the pitch and his qualities are not easily replaced.


PRO – Forces reinvigoration of the midfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, May 3, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At 33, Henderson’s role will have shifted towards taking over from where James Milner left off and a departure at this stage would force the club’s hand in completely rebuilding their midfield.

It has been the area to address for some time but the captain’s departure would move up the timeline for the complete overhaul.

The Reds’ midfield had an average age of 27.2 years last season and currently stands at 24.75 (including Henderson). Another young addition would see that average drop once more.

Moises Caicedo, anyone?


CON – Another homegrown player down

Jordan Henderson (right) celebrates vs. AC Milan (Gomez, Robertson) 2021 (Image: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Once the out-of-contract players departed earlier in the summer, Liverpool were left with five homegrown players in Klopp’s squad: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Henderson, Caoimhin Kelleher and Nat Phillips.

Kelleher’s future is uncertain and Phillips looks set to finally get his move – if you add a departure for Henderson, that leaves just three left from the abovementioned five.

Now, there are ways of bolstering this in the transfer window for Liverpool – Romeo Lavia is one such example – but with an English tax placed on players, it will come at a cost.

Curtis Jones can be added this season, but for a full squad in the Premier League and in Europe, solutions will need to be sought.


PRO – It just makes sense

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 20, 2023: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For the time being we will forget the destination, but from the basic facts it does make sense for Liverpool.

Henderson is a player who has given everything for the club but he is on the decline and without assurances over his exact role, the business brain will tell Liverpool to cash in.

After losing a handful of their experienced players on free transfers, the ability to recoup a fee and reinvest in Klopp’s next era is sensible. Loyalty and the heart may say otherwise, but Liverpool have been burned with that thinking in the past.


CON – Legacy altering

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 29, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson, wearing a rainbow armband, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Taking the club itself away from this one, a decision to make the move will reflect on Henderson’s legacy and not for the better.

It did not take long for hypocrisy to be associated with the captain, as homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and Henderson has long been a champion for the LGBTQ+ community.

The absurd paycheck is one thing, but the human element of it all cannot be swept under the rug as an agreement is a silent acceptance of what is occurring in the region.

Few would begrudge a transfer for Henderson, but many will find the destination disappointing, to put it lightly.