Why losing Jordan Henderson this summer would be disastrous for Liverpool

Jordan Henderson's name will forever be synonymous with Liverpool.

From making almost 500 club appearances and lifting the club's sixth Champions League, to being the first Reds captain to win the league in the Premier League era, he's done what so many have failed to do.

Put simply, he's won it all.

What's also true is that despite his immense contributions to the club over the past 12 years, it is clear that the 33-year-old's very best days are behind him.

In fact, during a summer where Liverpool's long-promised midfield rebuild is well and truly underway — with the acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai already through the door and more bodies reportedly being targeted — the talk of the town amongst many fans is that, perhaps, it may be time to part ways with the skipper.

That could potentially even become a reality, with reports that Henderson could be in "advanced talks" over a move to Saudi Arabia to link up with fellow Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard at Al-Ettifaq.

On some level it makes sense, right? Our skip leaves for a big payday, with his head held high having won the lot. One Liverpool legend signs another, and Liverpool remove a high earner from the wage bill and are left to complete their midfield rebuild with no constraints or room for sentimentality.
However, I don't think it's quite that simple.

© Proshots - Jordan Henderson

If this move does come to fruition and Henderson becomes another name on the club's departure list this season, it could have disastrous consequences for Liverpool, setting back what looks to be a very promising overhaul in the middle of the park.

Think back to any transitionary period at any successful club and one aspect that is overwhelmingly paramount in order to make a rebuild into a success is unity, giving players the time and support to fit in and gel with the existing squad, while — crucially — ensuring the culture of the club is maintained.

That may sound dramatic considering Liverpool have only made two new signings so far, but departures also have a huge part to play here.

Already this summer, the club has lost the influence of the highly respected and incredibly experienced Roberto Firmino, as well vice-captain and training ground pace-setter James Milner.

The possibility of losing all three of Firmino, Milner and Henderson in one summer — regardless of their on-pitch contributions — would be detrimental for not only helping new recruits settle in, but maintaining the win-above-all attitude they have helped instil in the club during this incredibly successful period.

It could be argued Liverpool have the existing leadership in their ranks to cover the captain's departure (Andy Robertson, Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, to name a few, are all captains of their national teams). However, cutting ties with two members of the club's leadership group — and the two longest-serving first-team players — in one summer would certainly see a drop off in experience, wisdom and mentality. That would be true whether Liverpool had an entire 25-man squad of international captains, or none at all.

All of this is without even considering the possibility that Henderson still has more to give in a Liverpool shirt.

Henderson is consistently available, which can't be said for many of the Reds' other midfield options. The veteran made 35 appearances in all competitions last season, racking up 2,075 minutes. To put this in context, the only midfielder to feature more across the campaign was Fabinho. The Englishman played 819 more minutes than Thiago, 460 more than Harvey Elliott and 1,035 more than Curtis Jones, despite being the oldest of the bunch.

When combining this with the fact that Liverpool have already lost as many as five bodies in midfield (Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Carvalho and Arthur) and have only brought in two, getting rid of another — especially one with the second-highest midfield minutes last season — would seem incredibly risky.

So, Henderson has Liverpool covered when it comes to experience, leadership and availability — three of the vital components needed in a midfield for a team to compete at the very top.

Selling the captain this summer, at such a pivotal time at the club, would be the incorrect decision on multiple fronts. While no one is suggesting that Henderson starts every game next season and that his place is unquestionable, the 33-year-old undoubtedly has more to give to the club. Liverpool's new recruits will need someone to teach them the Liverpool way, and our plethora of young talent need an experienced midfielder to look up to.

Over the past decade, no-one has proven his doubters more wrong on such a consistent basis as Henderson. Judging by the photos of his impressive physique coming into pre-season, he's ready to do it all over again in 2023/24.

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