Chris Sutton thinks “everybody would understand” if former Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson admitted he “went off to Saudi for the money”.
The England international left the Reds in the summer transfer window to link up with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is the manager at Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson was joined in Saudi Arabia by Fabinho with the Reds undergoing major surgery in midfield after Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner left on free transfers.
Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch all arrived in their place as Liverpool have impressed early on this season.
Henderson, as a long-time supporter of the LGBT+ community, has drawn widespread condemnation for his decision to move to a country where homosexuality is illegal.
In his interview with The Athletic, in which he gave some bullsh*t answers, Henderson stressed money was not a motivating factor for him and denied reports he was earning £700,000-a-week.
But the wealth of the Saudi Pro League, particularly Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli who are backed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has undoubtedly had a massive impact on this summer’s transfer window and will on windows to come.
And former Premier League striker Sutton reckons Henderson should’ve said he’d gone to Saudi Arabia for the money as “everybody would understand”.
Sutton told the Daily Mail: “So, you know he went off to Saudi for the money, didn’t he? That’s essentially it. I don’t know why he just doesn’t stick to that and just say that. And then I think everybody would understand it.
“You know, a couple of years ago had Jordan Henderson being questioned about the possibility of going to Saudi Arabia when the league was up and running, we know that he wouldn’t have had any interest.
“The only interest going to Saudi Arabia is for people to earn huge amounts of money. And do you know what? That’s OK. But just say it, you know, don’t get involved in arguments about culture, you know, and other people are burying their heads in the sand.
“The only person who’s burying the head somewhere is Jordan Henderson and that’s somewhere which you know he shouldn’t be burying his head at the minute.”
To which the Daily Mail‘s Ian Ladyman replied: “I suppose Chris, the hole that Jordan has dug for himself relates to his previous support of the LGBTQ+ community and how this sits with him going to play in a country like Saudi Arabia. That is the problem.
“That is why he’s talking. I think that is the situation he’s trying to explain. And I think we can both agree he’s not made a terribly good job of it. Now, one of the things that did fascinate me about the interview was more of a football nugget.
“When Jordan explained that he left Liverpool, not for the money he says, but because he didn’t think he was going to be in Jurgen Klopp’s plans. Jordan Henderson has never struck me as a type of footballer who would not want to hang around and fight for his place.”
Sutton added: “It surprised me a little bit, the type of character I think we’ve all perceived Jordan to be over the years as a real fighter. But the stuff he talked about, the conversation with Jorg (Schmadtke – Liverpool’s sporting director) and (Jurgen) Klopp and not feeling valued, I don’t get that.
“He was still under contract at Liverpool and maybe he just couldn’t stomach the fight for his place up against, you know, the likes of McAllister and Szoboszlai going in.”