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Jordan Henderson: Liverpool captain joins Al Ettifaq and reunites with Steven Gerrard in Saudi Pro League

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson completes deal to join Saudi Arabian side Al Ettifaq until 2026; Al Ettifaq managed by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, who played alongside Henderson at Anfield for three years

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A look at Jordan Henderson's best bits for Liverpool as he completes a move to Saudi Pro League club Al Ettifaq

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has completed a controversial move to reunite with Steven Gerrard at Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq.

Al Ettifaq, managed by Liverpool legend Gerrard, are believed to be paying Henderson close to £350,000-a-week on a deal until 2026.

Henderson's controversial transfer to Saudi Arabia's Pro League comes with a fee worth around £13m, and brings his 12-year Anfield career to an end. He won seven major trophies in that time.

The 33-year-old sought clarity from Jurgen Klopp over how much game time he would get with the Reds next season, before making his decision to leave.

Liverpool are undergoing a midfield rebuild that is not complete yet. They have added Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, with strong interest remaining in Romeo Lavia.

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Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail and Charlotte Duncker of The Times discuss Jordan Henderson's move to the Saudi Pro League to join Al-Ettifaq.

Thiago Alcantara has also been targeted by Saudi Arabia, while Liverpool have already given Fabinho the green light to complete a £40m move to Al Ittihad.

After joining the Liverpool squad for their pre-season training camp in Germany, Henderson was left out of the opening friendly against Karlsruher last week and said farewell to his team-mates before returning home to undergo a medical and finalise the move.

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Henderson has assessed how significant his on-pitch role would be at Liverpool moving forward, but also how switching to Al Ettifaq could impede his international future ahead of the Euro 2024.

There is also a moral consideration: Henderson has been a consistent advocate for human rights and is one of the most vocal supporters of the LGBTQI+ community.

Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, while the state stands accused of a host of other abuses including placing harsh restrictions on women's rights and the right to political protest.

Al-Ettifaq's video montage to announce Henderson's arrival mixes colour and black and white footage but in the majority of the images the captain's armband he is wearing - including both the LGBT+ rainbow and UEFA's No to Racism - is
greyed out.

"Jordan Henderson is of course free to play for whoever he chooses, but we would urge him to examine Saudi Arabia's human rights record and be prepared to speak out about human rights violations in the country," Amnesty's UK economic affairs director Peter Frankental said last week.

Pride in Football, a network of LGBT+ fan groups, said in a statement: "When you see someone who has been an ally so publicly transfer to a club in a country where LGBT+ people are attacked and imprisoned, it is disappointing.

"Good luck in Saudi Arabia Jordan, but you have lost the respect of so many people who valued you, and trusted you."

Liverpool's own LGBT+ fans group Kop Outs were even more damning, saying: "Given choices he has recently made, Kop Outs doubt & question if Henderson was ever an actual ally."

Former Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, one of the only openly gay past or present professional footballers in the world, said Henderson could "play wherever he wants to play" but added his past support for the LGBT+ community had not been genuine.

"So Jordan Henderson finally gets his move to Saudi Arabia," he wrote on Twitter. "Fair play to him, he can play wherever he wants to play.

"Curious to know though how the new brand JH will look like. The old one is dead! I did believe for a while that his support for the LGBT+ community would be genuine. Silly me…"

The Liverpool supporters' board said: "Jordan Henderson was a true captain and true leader for LFC on and off the pitch. We know he did much to promote inclusion on and off the pitch. He stood out as a principled footballer.

"We are therefore very disappointed and disheartened by his decision and the hurt and division it has created.

"The very essence of the LFC supporters board is to be inclusive and ensure all LFC fans, whatever their faith, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability can attend and enjoy football. That's what we want for fans, that's what we want for football. We stand in solidarity with our allies from @LFC_LGBT"

Klopp: Henderson is a Liverpool legend

Having served under Klopp throughout the entirety of the German's eight-year spell at Anfield to date, Henderson was reserved a personal goodbye message from his now former manager.

He paid tribute to what he called a Liverpool "legend" and extended an invitation to return to Anfield for him to receive a fitting farewell.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to his former captain Jordan Henderson in a video posted to Liverpool's social media channels.

Klopp said: "We will miss you, you know that, you will miss us, I know that - but it's life. And it's not forever, it's just a goodbye, it's wishing good luck to us and to you.

I said in the beginning when I arrived here that life should be something where we collect stories together, and when you look back now I think you can't avoid a smile, and I feel exactly the same.

"You were the longest-serving skipper, I've always had them - Sebastian Kehl [of Dortmund], seven years, Dimo Wache [of Mainz] seven years and three months, you are seven years and eight or nine months - so you won that race.

I will miss you, I will miss the talks we have, not always the easy talks but I wish you the best of luck. You, Rebecca and the kids, I wish you the best of luck for this journey.

"If nobody told you this yet I will now - you are a legend. People say recently we use that word slightly too often, but I can tell you that in your case it isn't. I hope you find time to come back and we can say goodbye as a club."

Henderson given no guarantees by Southgate

Henderson spoke to Gareth Southgate before finally committing to his lucrative transfer to Saudi Arabia, to try to seek reassurance that the move wouldn't affect his England future.

However, Sky Sports News has been told Southgate could offer the 33-year-old no guarantees about selection. Equally, Henderson learned he won't be immediately overlooked by the England boss, as he considers his squad for the upcoming autumn internationals.

Henderson has made it clear to Southgate - with whom he has a close relationship - that he has no plans to retire from international football, and that he is still very keen to be involved with England in the remaining Euro qualifiers, and during next summer's finals in Germany.

His move to the Saudi Pro League nevertheless raises serious question marks over his England future - because the standard of football will mark a significant dip compared to the elite level of the Premier League.

The first test of Henderson's international pedigree will come in five weeks' time, at the very start of September, when Southgate will name his squad to face Ukraine in Poland, followed by the "friendly" against Scotland.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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