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Jurgen Klopp defends Jordan Henderson’s Ajax move – “Can enjoy his football again”

Jurgen Klopp has defended Jordan Henderson‘s decision to return to Europe just six months after a failed high-profile move to the Saudi Pro League.

The former Liverpool captain brought an end to a trophy-laden 12-year stint at Anfield in order to join the exodus to Saudi Arabia last summer.

Having previously been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, Henderson was widely condemned for moving to a country where homosexuality is illegal.

But he subsequently pushed back on suggestions that he had compromised his beliefs or moved solely for money in an interview with The Athletic that only invited further criticism.

He has now contradicted himself in returning at the first opportunity, cancelling his Al Ettifaq contract by mutual agreement and joining Dutch giants Ajax.

Klopp insists his former skipper does not deserve to be judged too harshly, though.

He said: “No, I didn’t speak to him after. But I’m happy for him as it looks like he is happy and that is the most important thing to me.

“From time to time I forget I actually don’t read these kind of stories, but when it’s not about us I read a bit.

“People are really critical of Hendo about the move, first there and now coming back. I don’t know how we dare, always judging these kind things.

“We have one life and we have to make decisions, and sometimes our decisions are perfect in the first case, and sometimes it feels different after you made them.

“He was there and it was 100 percent an interesting experience. I spoke to him and 99 percent of football things there were absolutely fine.

“It is the start of something and it is not like it is here – imagine it would immediately be like that.

“There are many things to develop in the future but (he was) never really critical or saying ‘It’s not possible that that’s not there’.

“But then he thought it is better for him and the family to come back to Europe and now he is here, at Ajax Amsterdam, a sensational club in a difficult moment.

“Ajax always played the best football when they combined their real talent that is always there with some experience, and that is obviously now the job of Hendo.

“He is part of that experienced group and from fifth place in Holland you can make steps in the table, and it’s all positive. It’s an experience.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 28, 2023: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (R) and manager Jürgen Klopp after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. The game ended in a 4-4 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Only in England do people think ‘Why do they go abroad?’. All other players want to come to England and as beautiful as this country is, they want to make international experiences and, for me, it is the same.

“He is going to Holland where he can enjoy his football definitely again, the family will feel wonderful because the city is absolutely outstanding, and I am very happy for him.

“[I] will definitely talk to him, but in these few days I thought he has a few things to do which are more important.”