Former Premier League and Celtic striker turned-pundit Chris Sutton has criticised Jordan Henderson for his decision to swap Liverpool for the Saudi Pro League in a recent interview with the Daily Mail [via Football365].
He has accused Henderson of moving to Al-Ettifaq for the money – and sacrificing the work he has done to promote LGBTQ causes in the past as a result.
Furthermore, he also took issue with Henderson’s quote which reads: ‘we can all bury our heads in the sand’ [via The Athletic]. He said that it is in fact Henderson who is doing this, stating: ‘The only person who’s burying the head somewhere is Jordan Henderson’.
What did Sutton say in the interview?
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Sutton said: “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.”
Should Liverpool have allowed Jordan Henderson to join Al-Ettifaq?
Ultimately, it was not in Liverpool’s control as to whether Henderson left the club or not. He chose to pursue a move to Saudi Arabia and they did not stand in his way while he did so. Jurgen Klopp was keen to revamp his midfield in the summer – selling Henderson was just one piece of the puzzle.
Nevertheless, the whole situation reflects badly on Henderson. Even if he genuinely has not moved for financial reasons, it is a difficult story to sell – especially with how much money Saudi Arabian teams are willing to throw at players.
In many ways, Sutton is correct in his summary. Henderson would have earned far more respect if he said he was just moving for the money and to attain financial security for his family – even if it would not have completely ameliorated the situation.