Jordan Henderson wants to return to the Premier League just six months after swapping England’s top tier for the riches of Saudi Arabia, according to reports. Henderson left Liverpool to join Al-Ettifaq last summer but has struggled to adapt to life at his new club, who have only managed to win six league games all season.
Al-Ettifaq are currently on a run of eight matches without a victory, which has piled the pressure on manager Steven Gerrard to turn things around or risk losing his job. It seems as though Henderson is quickly losing patience with how things are going in Saudi Arabia, with the Daily Mail reporting that he is ready to leave Al-Ettifaq after just half a season.
It is claimed that Henderson would be willing to accept a significant pay cut if he receives an offer from the Premier League, with the 33-year-old widely reported to be earning around £700,000 per week. An exit this month would also cost him millions of pounds in taxes, given that the tax-free element of his Al-Ettifaq contract will only apply if he honours the first two years of his deal.
The report adds that Henderson has struggled with the heat and humidity in Saudi Arabia, while Al-Ettifaq’s consistently low attendances have also played a role in his discontent. They have only averaged 7,800 fans per home game this season despite their stadium having a capacity of 35,000.
A number of other factors are said to be at play, including the abuse he has received for moving to Saudi Arabia in the first place and the recent departure of assistant coach Ian Foster to take over at Plymouth Argyle. Henderson is also thought to be aware that returning to the Premier League will give him a better chance of making the England squad for this summer’s Euros.
Gareth Southgate has kept his faith in Henderson since the latter’s move to Saudi Arabia, although he was booed by England fans while playing against Australia in October. However, there is little doubt that playing at a higher level would boost Henderson’s hopes of earning a place in the final squad for the tournament in Germany.
Henderson is said to have informed his Al-Ettifaq team-mates that he will consider the options available to him during the Saudi Pro League winter break. It remains to be seen if he will be targeted by any Premier League clubs this month, with his wage demands likely to be a sticking point given that many teams are struggling to comply with spending restrictions.
Meanwhile, it is said that Gerrard’s role as manager of eighth-placed Al-Ettifaq is up in the air due to their poor run of form over the last three months. A total of 13 clubs in the Saudi Pro League have already changed their managers this season, with the likes of Nuno Espirito Santo, Robbie Fowler and Igor Biscan having all lost their jobs.
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