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Jordan Henderson: Ajax sign England international after midfielder terminates Al Ettifaq contract

Jordan Henderson has signed for Ajax, ending his controversial spell in Saudi Arabia after just six months; the ex-Liverpool captain's three-year deal was terminated by Al Ettifaq; Jurgen Klopp questioned how people "dare" to question Henderson's choices

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Jordan Henderson has completed his move to Ajax having agreed to terminate his contract with Al Ettifaq

Jurgen Klopp has questioned how people "dare" to criticise Jordan Henderson following the end of his time in Saudi Arabia after just six months.

The England international completed a move to Ajax on Thursday on a two-and-a-half-year deal after failing to settle with Al Ettifaq, who agreed to terminate his three-year contract with immediate effect.

Henderson attracted criticism for his decision to move to Saudi Arabia given his outspoken support of the LGBTQ+ community during his time at Liverpool.

The England international has also come under scrutiny for leaving Al Ettifaq after just a matter of months, despite saying he wanted to help "grow" football in the country.

However, Klopp hit back at those suggestions ahead of Liverpool's Premier League fixture at Bournemouth on Sunday - live on Sky Sports - saying: "No, I didn't speak to him, but I'm happy for him because it looks like he's happy. That's the most important thing to me.

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

"We have one life and we have to make decisions. Sometimes our decisions are perfect and sometimes it feels different after you made them.

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"It was 100 per cent an interesting experience. I spoke to him and 99 per cent of the football stuff was fine. It was the start of something, with many things to develop in the future, but he was never really critical.

"But he thought it was better for him and his family to come back to Europe and Ajax are a sensational club."

After completing his move to Ajax, Henderson said: "I'm sad to say that I will be leaving Al Ettifaq with immediate effect. It wasn't an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank the club and the fans for all the support during my time. I really felt the love from day one.

"I'll keep watching and hoping for your success. Good luck for the future."

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Sky Sports' Kaveh Solhekol explains how Al Ettifaq will be affected by Jordan Henderson's proposed exit from the club.

Meanwhile, Al Ettifaq club president Samer Al Misehal said: "Firstly, the club would like to thank Jordan for his efforts and wish him the best for his future endeavours.

"We are always respectful of our players. The club and Jordan believe this quick decision, without any delay or further distraction, has been made for both the overall good of the club and for Jordan."

Ajax boss: Henderson adds experience and leadership qualities

Henderson will wear the No 6 shirt at Ajax, who have endured a difficult season so far as they sit fifth in the Eredvisie, 23 points behind leaders PSV.

Ajax boss John van 't Schip said: "We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities. Partially due to injuries in the team, we were looking for someone who could step in immediately. Jordan Henderson is that type of player.

"His arrival means a huge enhancement for our squad. Both on and off the pitch, a football player of this calibre is important for our many young players.

"He's an English international player and has won the Champions League and many other prizes with Liverpool.

"I am happy he's here and I think it's very good for our club that he's an Ajacied from today onwards."

Is this an embarrassing climbdown for Henderson?

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Sky Sports' Kaveh Solhekol explains how Al Ettifaq will be affected by Jordan Henderson's proposed exit from the club.

Sky Sports News' chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"It depends how you look at it. A lot of people will be saying he's coming back with his tail between his legs, he should never have gone there in the first place. He was accused of being a hypocrite.

"He was accused of only going there for the money. He was accused of letting down the LGBTQ+ community. We've got to be a bit careful before we start to criticise people because we don't know the full story.

"The bottom line is that last summer, Jordan Henderson thought the best decision for him and his family was for him to move to Saudi Arabia.

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On Back Pages Tonight, The Times' chief sports reporter Martyn Ziegler discusses Jordan Henderson's pay during his time in Saudi Arabia

"Fast forward six months later, he thinks the best decision for him is to leave Saudi Arabia and come back to Europe. Obviously, it's been a hugely controversial move. We all know it hasn't worked out.

"But as far as he is concerned, he will be happy that his Saudi Arabian adventure is over and he's back playing at a higher level in European football.

"One of the really important things for him is to keep his place in the England squad for the Euros this summer."

Follow the January transfer window

The winter transfer window is now open and will close at 11pm in England and midnight in Scotland on Thursday 1 February, 2024.

To ensure harmonisation with the major leagues in Europe, the closing dates were set following discussions with the EFL, DFL, Serie A, LaLiga, and LFP, who will all close their summer and winter windows on 1 September and 1 February respectively

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms, while you can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News, including daily transfer shows, and listen to our Transfer Talk podcast.

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