Gareth Southgate speaks out on Jordan Henderson transfer criticism

Jordan Henderson has come under a lot of criticism after completing his lucrative move to Al Ettifaq.

However, England manager Gareth Southgate has said "it is not for him to judge" the England international who decided to end his 12-year stay on Merseyside for a move to the Saudi Pro League.

Henderson has been vocal ally for the LGBTQ+ community in recent years and therefore a move to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, has lead to a backlash from those who feel let down by his choice of move.

The 33-year-old has yet to respond to the criticism since joining former teammate Steven Gerrard's side, but England boss Southgate was asked about the move when speaking to talkSPORT.

"Yes [I can understand the criticism], and I think he knows that’s coming. He’s fully aware of that," Southgate told presenter Jim White.

"Of course when you’re deciding as a football player what your next move is, there are a lot of things that come into consideration, not least what was the role going to be at Liverpool? Was he going to be playing regularly or not at Liverpool? How long left on the contract? Maybe Liverpool getting a fee like they have for a player of his age is also good business in the long term for them."

Southgate went on to call the controversial topic of the rise of Saudi influence in football 'complicated', refusing to criticise Henderson for hypocrisy in his choice of club. However, he also conceded that he understands why some people have 'strong views'.

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"It’s not for me to judge any individual, whether they’re in football or any other industry," he said.

"I don’t think he’s changing his view on what he believes in, so now we’re in a really complex world where what are we saying - nobody should go to Newcastle (United, who are owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund)? Or nobody should go for one of the many companies that the Saudis own in London? We shouldn’t buy oil from the Saudis? I think it’s very complicated.

"I completely understand the argument of, ‘you’ve supported the LGBT community’, and I can understand why they would have a really strong view on it."

Southgate added that money has clearly been a 'huge factor' in bringing players to Saudi Arabia, but has steered clear of making a judgment on any player's career choices.

"It’s not for me to judge, I’d have a view, but you’ve got to be comfortable with your own decisions when you put your own head on the pillow and what that means for you, your family, and where else you can go," he said.

"Players have a lot to consider - clearly finance in this situation has been a huge factor, there’s no escaping that for all of the players that have gone there. The league wouldn’t be attracting the players it has without the level of finance. That’s the same with the Premier League, though."

Henderson's £12m transfer has drawn public criticism from Liverpool's LGBTQ+ fan group Kop Outs! as well as former Premier League footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger.

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