Jordan Henderson has explained his decision to leave Liverpool with the former club captain revealing that he didn’t “feel wanted” by the Merseysiders.
The England international completed a £12m move to Al-Ettifaq earlier in the summer with Henderson linking up with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is the new manager at the Saudi Pro League club.
Liverpool have lost Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia this summer, while Mo Salah, Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate have all been linked with transfers to Al-Ittihad.
Henderson was viewed as a huge ally to the LGBTQ+ community during his time as Liverpool captain so his switch to Al-Ettifaq in a country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death has understandably attracted widespread criticism.
When asked by The Athletic whether Jurgen Klopp had told him he wasn’t part of his plans, Henderson replied: “There were a few things that sent alarm bells ringing. I’ve got a very good relationship with Jurgen.
“He was very honest with me. I won’t go into detail about the conversation because it’s private, but it put me in a position where I knew that I wasn’t going to be playing as much. I knew there were going to be new players coming in my position.
“And if I’m not playing, as anybody will know, especially the manager, that can be quite difficult for me and especially when I’ve been at a club for so long, I’ve captained the team for so long. Especially when England’s a big thing for me.
“You’ve got the Euros coming up. And then there was an approach from Al-Ettifaq to the club to see if it would be possible for me to go there.
“The reaction from the club again wasn’t to say no. At that moment I felt as though my value or the want for me to stay, with the manager and within the club, maybe it had shifted. I knew that time would come at some point. I didn’t think it would be now. And I had to accept that.
“I’ve got very good relationships with Jurgen, with the owners of the club. That’ll be forever. What we’ve achieved together in the past 12 years has been incredible. But at the same time, it was hard for me to take that.”
And Henderson has insisted he would’ve stayed at Liverpool if Klopp or others at the club had asked him to remain at Anfield.
When asked if there was part of him thinking ‘I’d just like you to fight for me a little bit’, Henderson added: “If one of those people said to me, ‘Now we want you to stay’, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And I have to then think about what’s next for me in my career.
“Now, that’s not to say that they forced me out of the club or they were saying they wanted me to leave but at no point did I feel wanted by the club or anyone to stay.”