Premier League • England

Jordan Henderson names two stars who’ll drive Liverpool to title; opens up on tough Anfield exit

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk

Jordan Henderson has praised two former Liverpool team-mates

Jordan Henderson has backed Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold to have a crucial role in Liverpool winning several trophies this season, while the midfielder has also spoken about his painful summer transfer.

Henderson had a glorious spell at Anfield between July 2011 and July 2023. He made 492 appearances and captained Liverpool to major trophies including the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

However, it became clear last summer that Henderson’s first-team opportunities would be limited during the 2023-24 campaign, which saw him leave for Saudi Arabia. He joined Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq in a £12million deal.

But the England international struggled to adapt to life in the Middle East and was also left underwhelmed by the lack of supporters in the stands. As such, he ripped up his Al-Ettifaq contract and returned to Europe in January by joining Ajax on a free transfer.

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Henderson will play English competition on Thursday night, as Ajax have been drawn against Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League round of 16.

Ahead of the match, Henderson was asked about Jurgen Klopp’s decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season. He replied: “It was a tough one when you first see it because Jurgen’s had an amazing time at Liverpool.

“Everything we achieved was because of him. He changed everything when he came in and I just hope the end of the story is a fairytale for him and the boys and the club because they all deserve it.

“They all work so hard. Last season was so tough for so many aspects, off the field and on it. So for this season to be going as well as it has – I’m so proud of them.

Jordan Henderson calls Liverpool stars ‘brothers for life’

“I was the captain for so long there and all of the team still feel like my best friends, my brothers really for life.

“I just want to see them end the season like they’ve been playing the whole year really with the young players coming in. I hope they can end the season on a high and win as many trophies as possible.”

When asked if he regrets leaving Liverpool, Henderson explained how his departure has seen the likes of Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold step up. The 33-year-old thinks those two players will be vital if Liverpool are to add to their trophy cabinet this term.

“Not really [any regrets],” he said. “Looking back it was the right time for me as a player – but also for them as a team and as a club – as much as that hurt at the time.

“I was very emotional but looking back now it’s easy to see it was the right decision made by the manager and the club. It was the best decision to freshen things up.

“If you look at Virgil becoming captain, Trent becoming vice-captain, and how they have stepped up again this season, I think it’s given them another lift.

Van Dijk, Trent ‘huge’ for Reds

“They’ve been two huge players for the team so I think it was the best thing for the club and you can see that with the performances this season.

“As much as that hurts me I can understand that’s football and you move on.

“I’m just so happy it’s worked out for them so far and I’ve just got my fingers crossed that hopefully there can be a fairytale end for Jurgen because he deserves it.”

Henderson continued: “I’ve spoken to Jurgen a little bit. Obviously when I found out it was quite shocking news for everyone. But I wasn’t as surprised as everyone else was because he has been there for a long time.

“The passion and emotion that he gives the team and the club – to do that for a long time must in the end wear you out.

“I think that coming out like it has in the last few weeks will give them an extra energy boost for the remainder of the season. I can see that already in him and the players as well.

“Hopefully that gets them over the line and they win a few trophies over the next few months.”

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