Premier League • England

Jordan Henderson told why Ajax move may be poisoned chalice, as former Liverpool star rips into ‘damaging’ Saudi switch

Jordan Henderson playing for Al-Ettifaq

Jordan Henderson has now joined Ajax

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has criticised ex-Reds captain Jordan Henderson for his decision to go to Saudi Arabia, while also sending him a warning about his potential next club Ajax.

Henderson ended his 12-year spell with Liverpool in July by linking up with Steven Gerrard at Al Ettifaq. Liverpool picked up around £13million for the central midfielder, a good fee considering he is in the twilight years of his career.

Henderson was heavily criticised when it emerged that he had gone to the Middle Eastern country. He has presented himself as an ally to the LGBT+ community in recent years, but opted to play in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

There are conflicting reports about how much he is earning in Saudi Arabia, with some claiming his wages to be as high as £700,000 a week and others suggesting they are no more than £150k per week.

Henderson has so far made 19 appearances for the Saudi Pro League club, and while he has yet to register his first goal, the 33-year-old has managed five assists. But it may not be long before Henderson returns to Europe.

He is unhappy with the lifestyle in Saudi Arabia and has also been left disappointed by the poor attendances in the country’s top flight.

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When it first emerged that Henderson is pushing to leave Ettifaq, Ajax were immediately named as potential suitors. And earlier on Wednesday the Dutch giants struck an ‘agreement in principle’ with Henderson, with Ettifaq willing to terminate his contract and let him leave on a free transfer.

Murphy, who made 249 appearances for Liverpool between 1997 and 2004, has now given his verdict on the situation. He believes that Henderson’s reputation has been ‘damaged’ by his short-lived adventure in Saudi Arabia.

Jordan Henderson ‘has messed it up’, says ex-Liverpool man

Murphy has also sent Henderson a warning about joining Ajax, as they are not in the strongest position this season.

“Jordan has messed it up, really,” the pundit said on talkSPORT. “Maybe not for Liverpool fans, but for a broader spectrum of football fans, his character and his reputation has been damaged by this whole episode.

“There might also be a thought in his mind that by paying them [Al Ettifaq] back with his own money, it kind of rights the wrongs of people accusing him of greed and going for the money in the first place.

“Ajax is probably as close to home as he can get. I don’t know if there’s an abundance of offers on the table for him.

“But Ajax are struggling, they’re nowhere near the levels they were previously, and going into a big club that’s struggling isn’t going to be easy.

“Because although Jordan Henderson has been a wonderful player, he’s not easy on the eye. He’s not coming in like some Brazilian skilful ball-player who fans will love. He’s a grower.

“He grows on you, Jordan, the more you see him the more you appreciate him, and when he’s not there you think, ‘we’re missing him’.”

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