The first real developments have been made in Jordan Henderson‘s attempts to depart Saudi Arabia, though his club insist the ex-Liverpool captain will not leave.
It is over a week since the news emerged that Henderson wanted out of Saudi Arabia just six months after his shock move away from Liverpool.
The reaction has been predictable, with few left surprised that the 33-year-old is dissatisfied with the standard of football and paltry crowds in the Saudi Pro League, and even fewer sympathetic after he chased the money out there.
It was reported that Henderson was looking to return to the Premier League, or at least Europe, with the possibility of an initial loan deal.
But there has been no suggestion of interest from any side in the English top flight, with his only concrete suitor being Ajax.
Ajax manager John van ‘t Schip told ESPN Netherlands on Sunday that “there is serious talk going on with Henderson.”
“He still has some things to arrange in Saudi Arabia,” Van ‘t Schip added.
“It could be a nice match. It’s no secret that we could really use that type of player. Other guys can benefit from that.”
A further report from Voetbal International claims that Henderson was “approaching a personal agreement” with the Eredivisie side, who are “prepared to go far financially” as they seek a permanent deal.
The Dutch publication adds that Henderson “wants to make concessions” in his earnings, and that he is not looking to return to the Premier League for tax reasons.
That comes on the understanding that, if the midfielder were to leave Saudi Arabia within his first two years, he would be sacrifice his tax-free earnings, which would leave him to pay millions in tax.
Sky Sports have also reported interest from Juventus in a loan deal, though it is claimed that the Serie A club would only look for a short-term deal while Henderson himself is pushing for 18 months in order to run out his contract at Al-Ettifaq.
Either way, This Is Anfield understands that Al-Ettifaq are prepared to resist attempts by Henderson to engineer a January departure.
Henderson has arrived for Al-Ettifaq’s mid-season training camp in Abu Dhabi and, per a number of sources including journalist Ben Jacobs, will hold talks with Steven Gerrard and sporting director Mark Allen over his future.
Jacobs maintains the line that Al-Ettifaq do not wish to sell, but adds that “only a massive offer” would tempt them.
This Is Anfield understands that a fee of at least £15 million would be demanded, though Jacobs interestingly added from “Saudi sources” that both Henderson’s transfer fee and wages are considerably lower than reported.
Liverpool are now claimed to have been paid just £4 million, while Henderson’s salary is insisted to be £8 million per year – or around £150,000 per week – though it is unclear whether that is before or after tax.
That would indicate that Al-Ettifaq are, in fact, open to business for their No. 10 at the right price – and Ajax seem a realistic buyer at this stage, if the numbers work out.
Ajax’s current highest earner is reported to be Steven Bergwijn, on around £75,000 per week, with the winger also the club’s most expensive signing ever at around £28 million.