Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson might have unwittingly weakened Everton by ditching Saudi Arabia after just five months. Henderson has joined Ajax from Al-Ettifaq, who are now reportedly interested in signing Abdoulaye Doucoure from Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton.
Doucoure has been linked with an exit from Everton, who may need to sell players this year to balance the books after their second FFP charge for breaching the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules. Steven Gerrard is believed to have taken an interest in the dynamic midfielder.
According to talkSPORT, Al-Ettifaq have spoken to Doucoure’s agent over a potential transfer. However, they have not yet formally approached Everton to make an offer.
It comes with Al-Ettifaq able to sign another foreign player after Henderson’s departure, with a direct midfield replacement supposedly likely. Doucoure, who is not part of Mali’s Africa Cup of Nations squad, would be an ideal candidate.
Everton would certainly be weaker for the 31-year-old’s departure. He has scored six goals in 18 Premier League appearances for Sean Dyche’s team this season, and bagged the goal that saw Everton clinch safety against Bournemouth on the final day of last term.
The Toffees would rue Henderson’s hasty departure from the Middle East, knowing that it paved the way for one of their best players to depart. The England international failed to settle after leaving Liverpool for Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson, previously a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, was widely criticised for accepting a move to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality remains illegal. The 33-year-old insists he has no regrets and believes there were many positive elements to his 17 games in the Saudi Pro League.
“They’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them and I learned a lot of things in Saudi. A lot of different experiences,” Henderson said upon joining Ajax.
“I haven’t got a bad word to say about anybody over there in the league, or the club. I’ll have friends over there that I’ll speak to forever. There are still positives to come out of it and in the end it didn’t turn out the way we both wanted it to and we ended it on great terms.”
Doucoure might not be entirely convinced by a switch to Al-Ettifaq due to their recent form. Steven Gerrard’s side started the season well, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr on the opening day of the season, but have since slumped to ninth in the table.
The Dammam-based outfit were winless in all nine of their matches leading up to the mid-season break. That did not stop them handing Gerrard a two-year contract extension, though.