February 24, 2024

Al Ettifaq midfielder Jordan Henderson is on the verge of completing a swift exit from the Saudi Pro League to join Ajax, according to a report.

Given his previous unwavering support for the LGBTQ+ Community, the 33-year-old sparked widespread fury when he left Liverpool for Saudi Arabia – where homosexuality is punishable by death – after a 12-year spell at Anfield.

Henderson strenuously denied that he was motivated to join Al Ettifaq for financial reasons amid reports of a £700,000-a-week deal, instead insisting that he wanted to help grow the game in the Middle East.

Henderson was immediately appointed captain and has been a regular fixture in Steven Gerrard‘s XI, but only six months after joining, it was reported that the England international was pining for a move back to Europe.

Al Ettifaq are eighth in the Saudi Pro League table thanks to a dampening eight-game winless run in the division, and in their most recent home game against Al-Hazem on December 28, only 5,808 fans were present.

England midfielder Jordan Henderson after the match on October 13, 2023© Reuters

Henderson is also believed to have struggled to adapt to the sweltering conditions in Saudi Arabia, and he has been persistently booed while playing for England since his controversial transfer.

 

Al Ettifaq were initially loath to part ways with Henderson, whose contract with the Saudi Pro League strugglers expires in 2026, but according to The Athletic, he is now close to finalising an exit.

The report states that Henderson and Al Ettifaq have reached an agreement to go their separate ways, and the midfielder is set to join Ajax on a free transfer once his contract is terminated.

Henderson is already believed to have left Al Ettifaq’s winter training camp in Abu Dhabi and will spend some time back in the UK before completing his switch to Ajax, with whom he has agreed a deal in principle.

The former Sunderland youngster is on the cusp of returning to Europe after making just 19 appearances for Al Ettifaq in all competitions, failing to score a single goal but registering five assists for Gerrard’s side.

Al-Ettifaq and England midfielder Jordan Henderson pictured in June 2023© Reuters

Henderson followed another erstwhile Liverpool midfielder in Georginio Wijnaldum to Al Ettifaq over the summer, while Demarai Gray and Moussa Dembele are also on the books at the club.

However, Al Ettifaq were not one of the four clubs backed in by the Public Investment Fund, who acquired 75% stakes in Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, Al-Ahli and Al-Nassr ahead of an influx of high-profile arrivals.

Al Ettifaq have also seen assistant manager Ian Foster leave to become the new head coach of Championship side Plymouth Argyle, while Gerrard’s future is also being called into question.

Ajax have hit a rich vein of form under John van ‘t Schip after a disastrous start to their Eredivisie campaign, winning seven of their last nine games to rise to fifth in the table.

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