Liverpool flexed their financial muscle as Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli worked in tandem to officially confirm Jordan Henderson as their first summer signing on 8th June 2011.
It has been widely reported over the past week that Liverpool have decided to follow through their firm interest in Henderson, and a compromise has been reached between both parties. Liverpool will sign Henderson from the Black Cats in a deal worth £16M.
Together with Wilshere, Henderson has been rated as one of the hottest English prospects in the country over the past year.
Steve Bruce, his former manager, raved: “We’ve got the brightest young prospect in the British game in Jordan. He’s certainly the biggest, the best young British footballer there is. At 20 years old he’s got the world at his feet. He’s a fantastic footballer.”
Henderson first appeared in the limelight in the 2008/09 season, where he made a lone substitute appearance off the bench against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The following season, at a tender age of 19, Henderson made 33 league appearances as he started to cement his status as a player with immense promise.
Last season, Henderson has gone from strength to strength. Only four players in Malouda, Kevin Davies, Brunt and Downing had created more goalscoring chances than Henderson, who carved out 82 opportunities for his fellow teammates.
Henderson has also registered a credible percentage for pass completion. In the 1643 passes he attempted last season, he recorded a total of 1279 successful passes – and this works out to a percentage of 77.85%, while Sunderland’s average pass completion rate was only 72% last season.
In comparison, Liverpool’s best passer Lucas Leiva boasts a pass completion rate of 82.7%, while the best passer award goes to Michael Essien, who registered a pass competion rate of 87.0%.
While Henderson holds a preference for playing in the middle of the park, he too is equally adept in playing out wide on the right.
Henderson is a player who likes to play in the opponent’s half, and can continually press on in a possibly advanced role.
Above is a Guardian Chalkboard in a game against Wigan, in which he netted a double. It illustrates how Henderson continued to press the Wigan’s defence by playing high up, towards the final third of the pitch. The final result was a 4-2 scoreline in favour of Sunderland.
While it is still unclear of where Henderson would best fit in Liverpool’s starting eleven, Henderson’s advanced role has offered a glimpse into Liverpool’s midfield next season.
Liverpool could go for a three-man centre midfield, with Lucas being the defensive anchor, after winning the highest no of tackles last season at 111. Gerrard, an all-round midfielder, might feature in the middle of the park, with Henderson just slightly above him to create that ‘extra push’ for the strikers up front.
Or alternatively, as some had suggested, he could slot in at the right to provide the crosses for Andy Carroll, just as how Joey Barton had done so while Carroll was still plying his trade at Newcastle.
Whatever the case is, the deal driven by Dalglish and his team to snap Henderson up for £16M is a good one. Though it might be a bit on the pricey side, Henderson has a vibrant future ahead of him and has loads to offer. In addition, he’ll offer Dalglish assurance, energy and fluidity in the heart of midfield.
Henderson, at 20, ticks all boxes that have shaped Liverpool’s summer transfer strategy. He’s young, with bags of potential, has a resale value, and is British.
While Sunderland remain loathe to lose their prized asset, this is a huge step up for the Wearsider, who will now head for Denmark to play for England U21s. The expectations are huge, but under Dalglish’s tutelage, you can expect him to flourish in the coming seasons.
Credits to: Guardian Chalkboards, Opta, and Telegraph for statistics.
This article was published on my blog here