Growing the game in Saudi Arabia? Completed it, mate.
Just a half a season on from his highly controversial move to Al Ettifaq, Jordan Henderson is returning to Europe to join Ajax.
The 33-year-old former Liverpool captain torched his Anfield legacy with the transfer – and subsequent interview with the Athletic – while also letting down the LGBT+ community he'd once been such a prominent advocate for.
Henderson famously insisted he wasn't leaving Liverpool for the money but because he was excited by the project in the Middle East, while also claiming he would've stayed if he felt wanted by Jurgen Klopp.
Meanwhile, he suggested that he might even be able to change attitudes from the inside while working in country where homosexuality is illegal. A claim somewhat undermined when an image of his rainbow armband was greyed-out in the official announcement video.
Things didn't really go to plan after that either.
After half a year of poor results on the field, low attendances and reports of his failure to settle in his new surroundings, Al Ettifaq have agreed to terminate their No. 10's contract as he nears a switch to Ajax.
Because if there's one country that needs Henderson to help bring some liberal values, it's the Netherlands.
As you'd expect, social media was quick to respond to the news:
Jordan Henderson arriving at Ajax after 6 months “growing the game” in Saudi Arabia pic.twitter.com/CJGVj4NROE
— betclever (@bet_clever) January 17, 2024
Jordan Henderson leaving Saudi Arabia after helping grow the stature of the league pic.twitter.com/6nOUfprrqD
— Jude Summerfield (@judesummerfield) January 17, 2024
I bet he’s really glad he put everything on the line for this move and I look forward to the subsequent social studies of Jordan Henderson’s long-term impact on Saudi Arabian society https://t.co/2ZJAR9lnjh
— Ceylon Andi Hickman (@ceylonandi) January 17, 2024
Sold his soul and morals for money, burned his bridges and turned his back on so many people then claimed he was moving to “make a difference” in that shambolic interview. The whole thing has been embarrassing. https://t.co/spxKXRduDy
— Danny Corcoran (@calcio_danny) January 17, 2024
“We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch. We had Klopp. We had Mo. We had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork. You could've shut your mouth, been a squad player and made as much money as you ever needed. It was perfect. But, no, you just had to blow it up.… https://t.co/2yhxkTUkQT pic.twitter.com/B7CqF4wCMh
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) January 17, 2024
Imagine if he had just made the move to Ajax in the summer and kept his mouth shut. His legacy would be held in much higher regard, and DaveOCKOP would have received far fewer clicks...
He really is quite stupid. https://t.co/jnDknrOpVE
— barry (@BackseatsmanLFC) January 17, 2024
Henderson looking to grow the game in the Netherlands, a predominantly darts-loving country
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) January 17, 2024
Henderson is reportedly set to take a massive pay cut to move to the Eredivisie, while he could make his debut for Ajax against RKC Waalwijk as early as this Sunday, as he looks to put the Saudi episode behind him.
What impact the former Liverpool skipper's brief stint in the Pro League has on one former Anfield teammate remains to be seen...
With the past 6 months of the Saudi League & their attempts to get star names over there & not many enjoying it or settling in very well there, you'd have to say it seems unlikely that Salah will go there over the next few years, regardless of how much money they throw at him.
— Spion Kop (@TheKopHQ) January 17, 2024