Jordan Henderson will “tarnish his legacy” at Liverpool by accepting an offer to join Al Ettifaq this summer, according to Stan Collymore.
The 33-year-old has reportedly reached a verbal agreement on a contract worth £700,000 a week, with the clubs having agreed a £12million fee.
He would be joining up with former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, who was appointed manager earlier this month.
LGBT+ groups have warned the England midfielder that his reputation as an ally to the community could be irreparably damaged if he accepts the offer, having previously been a vocal proponent of inclusivity in the game.
Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, while the state stands accused of a host of other abuses including placing harsh restrictions on women’s rights and the right to political protest.
Critics including Amnesty International have claimed that the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman seeks to ‘sportswash’ the country’s international reputation by luring world football stars to the Pro League, with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo amongst the most prominent players to have moved.
And former Liverpool striker Collymore has accused Henderson of “gross hypocrisy” ahead of his imminent transfer to Saudi Arabia.
Collymore wrote in his Caught Offside column: “Following the departure of Jordan Henderson, I feel that Virgil van Dijk should be given the Liverpool captaincy. He is a player that leads by example so for me, he is the obvious choice with Alisson taking the vice-captain role seeing that James Milner has also departed Anfield.
“Sticking with Henderson, I am very disappointed in his decision to move to Saudi Arabia after all he has done for the LGBTQ+ community in the past. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and I believe it will tarnish his legacy at Liverpool.
“You can’t say that something is wrong, go out of your way to campaign for it, and then go to a place such as Saudi Arabia that is known to disenfranchise the group of people he was standing up for.
“I like Jordan a lot but it is gross hypocrisy. I think a lot of Liverpool fans won’t say anything at the moment after all he has done, but I know a lot of others that are very disappointed in his decision and believe it has tarnished all the good things he has done during his time at Anfield.”