A joint-report for The Athletic by James Pearce and Simon Hughes has revealed what Jordan Henderson told the Liverpool players in his farewell speech to them prior to his exit from the club this week.
The 33-year-old completed his move to Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia in Wednesday, bringing an end to a 12-year stay at Anfield as he signed off with an emotional video he shared to Instagram.
Having not been with the Reds’ squad for Monday’s pre-season friendly against Greuther Furth, he met the players upon their touchdown in Manchester Airport that night and spoke with them.
During that speech, Henderson ‘stressed that one of the reasons he was leaving was a desire not to hold the club back’, with the midfielder then having one final meal with the teammates he was leaving behind.
After a dozen years at the club, during which time he served Liverpool with distinction as the captain of some unforgettable triumphs under Jurgen Klopp, the nature of the midfielder’s exit leaves a bitter taste, even if he’s seemingly insisted his departure is for the greater good.
His transfer to Saudi Arabia has met with vocal criticism, with the LFC Supporters’ Board condemning his move to a country where people who identify as LGBTQI+ can be subjected to severe penalties, which is very much at odds with Henderson’s previous public messages of support for that community (The Athletic).
Having started six fewer Premier League games last season than in the campaign prior (WhoScored), perhaps there was a sense of the 33-year-old’s role in the team diminishing even before his departure and the summer acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.
The player is obviously entitled to make the decision that he feels is best for his career, and for whatever reasons, but this still seems a massively anti-climactic way for his time with Liverpool to end after his tremendous contributions during a period of success for the club.