Jordan Henderson has confirmed he is leaving Liverpool after 12 years at the club, with the England midfielder set to link up with Steven Gerrard in Saudi Arabia..
Henderson had said his farewells on Monday as his 12-year association with the Reds came to an end.
The 33-year-old flew out to Saudi Arabia to complete his controversial move to Al-Ettifaq, where he will sign a bumper three-year contract worth £700,000 per week.
He had undergone a medical in Manchester on Friday ahead of the transfer, and before announcing his Anfield departure on Wednesday, footage emerged on social media of Henderson training with his new Al-Ettifaq team-mates.
Shortly after, the Liverpool captain confirmed his lengthy stay on Merseyside has now come to an end in an emotional video on social media.
Jordan Henderson has confirmed he is leaving Liverpool this summer after 12 years at the club
Henderson announced his Anfield departure in an emotional video on social media
He is set to link up with Reds legend Steven Gerrard (right) after signing a £700,000-a-week deal with Saudi club Al-Ettifaq
‘I am not sure I have any words to sum up how I am feeling right now. I am in the dressing room for the last time and as you can imagine it is very emotional,’ he says.
‘I need to somehow explain what these last 12 years have felt for me and my family. I can still remember that night in June 2011 clearly. I was excited and then nervous as the move from Sunderland became reality.
‘It was hard leaving there, I have to be honest. My home town, my club, but when Liverpool comes calling you don’t say no. Driving through those old Melwood gates, meeting Damien, the spinning feeling in my stomach, meeting Sir Kenny, it feels like yesterday.
‘Looking back at that footage, I am just a kid. Who would imagined looking back at that night how the next 12 years would go.
‘I can’t lie. There have been really hard times but when I look back at my career at Liverpool, it will always be the good times that I remember.’
It is thought Henderson spoke to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at length about his likely playing time and his future role in the team before deciding to make the switch.
Klopp had left Henderson out of Liverpool’s squad for their opening two pre-season friendlies after Al-Ettifaq came back to the table with an offer the Anfield club were happy to accept.
Henderson has faced criticism from the LGBT community over the transfer to Saudi Arabia
The midfielder held talks with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp before deciding to make the move
Henderson also held discussions with England boss Gareth Southgate over how a move to the Middle East would impact his international future.
He becomes the latest Premier League player to be recruited this summer by the Saudi Pro League, while he is the first prominent England international to make the switch.
The former Reds skipper has already faced criticism over the move to Saudi Arabia, which some have argued has undermined his public support to the LGBT community.
He had been vocal in his support of the rainbow laces campaign and ending LGBT discrimination in football.
A Liverpool LGBT fan group said earlier this month that they were ‘appalled and concerned’ he was considering the move to a nation where homosexuality is illegal and persecution against gay people is widespread.
Henderson had been a crucial part of Liverpool’s side since joining the club for £20m from Sunderland back in 2011.
In his twelve years on Merseyside, Henderson lifted seven major trophies – including the Premier League and Champions League.
Henderson won seven trophies at Liverpool including the Champions League back in 2019
Henderson held talks with Gareth Southgate over how the move impacts his England future
He spent the last eight seasons as captain of the club, after succeeding Steven Gerrard as captain in 2015.
Henderson will be reunited with Gerrard at Al-Ettifaq, after the Liverpool legend was appointed as manager earlier this month.
Unlike Saudi Arabia’s top four clubs, Al-Ettifaq do not have financial backing from the Public Investment Fund.
That led to the club agreeing a £12m deal with Liverpool through a structured timeline of payment.
Henderson will have to help Gerrard overcome a slow start at the club, which is based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia’s fourth largest city.
Al-Ettifaq have had two draws and two losses during their pre-season under Gerrard, having faced opposition from Croatia and Hungary.
Henderson is expected to meet up with his new team-mates at their pre-season training camp in Croatia.
Reports have claimed the midfielder could be joined at the club by former Lyon striker Moussa Dembele.
Gerrard has made a slow start as Al-Ettifaq boss with the club yet to win a match in pre-season
Al-Ettifaq are due to play two more pre-season friendlies before beginning their Saudi Pro League season by hosting Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr on August 14.
Al-Nassr have already signed former Manchester United full back Alex Telles and Croatia midfielder Marcelo Brozovic this summer
While they are reportedly targeting a move for Henderson’s ex-Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane too.
Henderson could yet also be joined in Saudi Arabia by his fellow Reds midfielder Fabinho, who was left off of the club’s pre-season tour to mull over a £40million move to Al-Ittihad.
A flood of players have traded European clubs for the Middle East including Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy.