Jordan Henderson quits Saudi Arabia and completes Ajax move

Henderson has joined the Dutch giants after six months in the Saudi Pro League

Sonia Twigg
Thursday 18 January 2024 21:38

Jordan Henderson has returned to Europe after joining Ajax from Saudi club Al-Ettifaq.

The former Liverpool midfielder, who will wear the No 6 shirt at Ajax, has departed the Saudi Pro League after just six months.

The England international was heralded as a flagship signing for the burgeoning league, but after an ill-fated spell, he has joined the Dutch giants on a permanent basis as a free agent on a two-and-a-half year contract.

Henderson said: “Amsterdam! So happy to be here. Can't wait to see you all soon.”

The 33-year-old also reached out to his former club: “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 & the fans for all the support during my time. I really felt the love from Day One. I’ll keep watching & hoping for your success. Good luck for the future.”

Last summer, Henderson penned a three-year deal worth a reported £350,000 a week with the club when he signed from Liverpool for £12m, linking up with his former captain and current Al Ettifaq manager Steven Gerrard in the process.

Ajax boss John van 't Schip lauded Henderson as a signing: "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."

After 12 years on Merseyside, it was a significant change to move from a packed-out Anfield to playing to an average of 7,854 supporters at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium.

Following his move, the 33-year-old faced widespread criticism, including for turning his back on the LGBTQ+ community he had spoken out in favour of throughout his career. However, Henderson said he was “really hurt” by the allegations and told The Athletic he had moved to “achieve something special and build a club and build the league”.

Henderson was among a number of players signed by the Saudi Pro League in the summer

Some England fans took to booing Henderson when he first played for the national side following his move, during the friendly win over Australia in October.

The midfielder played 17 times in the Saudi Pro League, recording four assists, but the club, which are not one of the big four owned by the Public Investment Fund, went into the winter break in eighth place, 28 points off the top.

Ajax have been public about their pursuit of Henderson, to bolster their own season. They sit in fifth place, 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven.

For the player himself, a move could boost his chances of securing a place in Gareth Southgate’s England side for the Euros in the summer.

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