Saudi Pro League boss breaks silence on 'DAMAGING' Jordan Henderson deal

Saudi Pro League chief football executive Michael Emenalo has broken silence on former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson quitting the league.

Jordan Henderson made waves last season with two transfers: one into the Saudi Pro League and then one out of it. The Liverpool captain asked to leave Anfield in the summer, departing for a big-money move to Al-Ettifaq.

He received plenty of stick for it, too. Here was someone who had championed various social and civil rights over the years moving to a country that felt like the antithesis of it all.

But then things took a turn. After pushing for the move, after putting up with the criticism, Henderson quit Al-Ettifaq and moved to Ajax - almost certainly losing out on a lot of money in the process.

It was a deal that did hurt the perception of the Saudi Pro League. One of their most high-profile signings of the project so far couldn't cut a full season there and left. The money, it seemed, just wasn't worth it.

Up until now, there hadn't really been any comment on the exit from the Saudi Pro League. Michael Emenalo has finally broken the silence on it, however, and has an interesting take.

This wasn't a 'damaging' development for the league - only for Henderson.

Michael Emenalo on Jordan Henderson

“It wasn’t damaging at all for the league," said Emenalo, per the Telegraph. "It was damaging on a personal level because this is someone that we all admired and we tried our very best to help him adapt and to stay.

“But sometimes these things are just beyond your own needs and just beyond professional. Jordan did a lot of good work here, did a lot of good work for Ettifaq and had inputs in ideas that have transformed that club and had an opportunity to know the country and the culture.

“If you ask him privately now, he will tell you that he had no issues. But sometimes there is a confluence of things happening that makes individuals make a decision that I think is best for them."

Of course, what else is he to say? Emenalo can hardly outright state that Henderson damaged the perception of his league.

At the same time, this might just be the first exit. There have been rumblings that Karim Benzema also wants out - and he was one of the three biggest transfers to the Middle East.

So we'll see where things go from here. The Saudi Pro League project hasn't quite been the success story the money suggested it would be - but there's a long way to go.

Henderson, though, will either be an anomaly or a trailblazer in hindsight.

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