Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has hit back at critics of Jordan Henderson’s move and subsequent exit from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq. Henderson, who has moved to Ajax after failing to settle in the Middle East, is free to make his own decisions, Klopp insists.
Former Liverpool captain Henderson, who has previously been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, received criticism for his move to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality remains illegal. The 33-year-old suggested he might be able to change attitudes after accepting a reported £350,000 per-week offer from Al-Ettifaq.
But Henderson has returned to Europe just five months after leaving Liverpool for the Gulf state. The England international, whose place at Euro 2024 might have shaped part of his decision, has joined Ajax on an 18-month contract.
His former Liverpool boss Klopp has urged critics to ease off Henderson, pointing out that players should be free to make their own decisions. “I didn’t speak to him yet, but I’m happy for him because it looks like he is happy and that is the most important thing to me,” the German said.
“People are really critical of Hendo and the move, first there and now coming back. I don’t know how we dare to always judge these things.
“We have one life and we have to make decisions. Sometimes our decisions are perfect in the first place and sometimes it feels different after you have made them. spoke to him and 99 per cent of what happened football wise there was absolutely fine.
“It was the start of something with many things to develop in the future. He was never critical. But then he thought it was better for him and the family to come back to Europe and now he is at Ajax Amsterdam – a sensational club in a difficult moment.”
On Friday, Henderson apologised to anyone who was offended by his decision to move to Saudi Arabia last summer. He played 17 games for Al-Ettifaq, who are managed by Steven Gerrard, before his exit was confirmed earlier this week.
“If anyone was offended or feels as though I upset them, that’s on me, that was my decision and I apologise for that. It was never my intention,” Henderson said.
“I just want to look forward now and concentrate on being the best player I can for Ajax. My beliefs have never changed and never will. Again I can only apologise if people feel let down.”