Jordan Henderson leaves Liverpool for Saudi Arabia? Al-Ettifaq wages and controversy explained
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Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has completed a controversial transfer to join Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq.
The England international will be reunited with his former teammate Steven Gerrard who was recently appointed as the club’s new manager.
The Saudi football league has already attracted a number of Europe’s biggest names in the summer transfer window and Henderson is expected to become the highest paid English footballer in history, according to reports.
Henderson leaves Liverpool as a legend - he won seven major trophies during his 12-year stay at Anfield.
However, his decision to join the Saudi Pro League has also been met with criticism from large sections of the LGBT+ community.
But why is Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia so controversial and how much is he expected to earn next season?
Here is everything you need to know.
Why is Jordan Henderson’s transfer to Saudi Arabia so controversial?
Jordan Henderson has been a vocal ally of the LGBT+ community over the last decade and he famously wore rainbow laces during England’s road to the Euro 2020 final.
The midfielder was also critical of Qatar’s human rights record in the buildup to the 2022 World Cup.
In an earlier interview, Henderson said: “When we were given the briefing, which was really important, it was quite shocking and disappointing. It’s horrendous really when you look at some of the issues that are currently happening and have been happening over there.”
“As a team we’re just sort of digesting that, coming up with ideas of what we want to do going forward because it’s an opportunity to maybe shine a light on the issues and use our platforms to make change for the better.”
He added: “The idea that anybody I love and care about wouldn’t feel safe or comfortable coming to watch me play if they were to be part of the LGBT community makes me wonder what world we live in.”
However, the midfielder is now moving to a nation where homosexuality is considered a crime and his move has been met with backlash from the LGBT+ community.
How has the LGBT+ community reacted to Jordan Henderson’s transfer to Saudi Arabia?
Retired footballer Thomas Hitzslberger criticised Henderson for his move to Saudi Arabia and claimed that his brand is now dead.
Hitzslberger was one of the first high-profile male footballers to come out as homosexual.
The former Aston Villa and Everton midfielder tweeted: “So Jordan Henderson finally gets his move to Saudi Arabia. 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…”
A statement from the LFC Supporters Board said: “Jordan Henderson was a true captain 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.”
What has Jordan Henderson said after his Liverpool exit?
Jordan Henderson posted a video on Instagram which looks back on his best moments at Liverpool since his arrival from Sunderland in 2011.
In the caption he posted: “It’s hard to put these last 12 years into words and it’s even harder to say goodbye. I will always be a Red. Until the day I die. Thank you for everything. You’ll never walk alone.”
How much will Jordan Henderson earn in Saudi Arabia?
Al-Ettifaq have reportedly offered to more than triple Jordan Henderson’s £200,000-a-week salary with a two-year contract, including a third year option.
The Daily Mail claims that Henderson will earn a figure of around £700,000 a week which would make him the highest paid English footballer of all time.