Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool player, has expressed his support for Jordan Henderson’s decision to leave the club and join Saudi Arabian side Al Ettifaq. Souness, who himself made a similar move to Italy during his playing career, understands the allure of a lucrative deal for players nearing the end of their careers.
Liverpool and Al Ettifaq have agreed on a transfer fee of £12 million plus add-ons for the sale of Henderson. While the financial aspect of the deal is impressive, it has not been without controversy. Saudi Arabia’s criminalization of homosexuality, with punishments that include the death penalty, has drawn criticism from fans, including the Liverpool LGBTQ+ fan group.
Henderson’s previous support for the LGBTQ+ community and his endorsement of the Rainbow Laces campaign ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have led to accusations of hypocrisy in light of his move to Saudi Arabia. Souness acknowledges that these comments may come back to haunt Henderson, but he believes that the player is prioritizing his and his family’s future by securing a substantial payday.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Souness stated that he personally doesn’t have an issue with Henderson’s decision, as he himself pursued a lucrative move to Italy at the age of 31. However, Souness believes that Henderson’s vocal support for LGBTQ+ causes will invite criticism for accepting the Saudi Arabian offer.
Souness acknowledges that Henderson would have considered the potential backlash and sought advice before making his decision. The allure of the incredible financial offer from Saudi Arabia is undeniable, especially considering the long life that awaits players after their football careers.
Nevertheless, Souness emphasizes that Henderson’s previous statements and support for LGBTQ+ causes will not be forgotten, and he will face ongoing criticism for his move to Saudi Arabia.
Henderson joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011 for a fee of £20 million. Despite initially struggling to settle at Anfield, he eventually became a key player for the club and was appointed captain following Steven Gerrard’s departure in 2015. As Liverpool’s captain, Henderson has won numerous titles, including the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, Super Cup, Community Shield, and Club World Cup.
Graeme Souness recently defended an unexpected move made by Liverpool F.C captain Jordan Henderson to Saudi Arabia, in response to recent criticism. Nevertheless, Souness cautioned that Henderson’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights could come back to bite him.
In the present context, Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia has resulted in public criticism due to the country’s controversial human rights record. After being captured in the spotlight, Henderson was defended by The Sun columnist and former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness.
Souness remarked that “it is his own business and no one else’s”. Any decision to take up a role at the said club is Henderson’s personal choice and he shouldn’t be subject to public scrutiny and judgments.
Despite defending Henderson’s move, Souness does not agree with all of Henderson’s stances. In the same article, he criticized Henderson for his statement regarding the LGBTQ+ community, which cites that the Liverpool captain’s expressed opinion on the matter could come back to bite him.
Souness is therefore perfectly justified in defending Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia and his right to make such a decision on his own. However, there is merit in Souness’ caution, as Jordan should be more mindful of how certain statements or expressions of opinion will be taken by different audiences and their potential to cause unnecessary harm.