Brendan Rodgers DEFENDS Jordan Henderson’s £700,000-a-week move to Saudi Arabian giants Al-Ettifaq, labelling those who judge the ex-Liverpool captain ‘morality officers’
- Jordan Henderson claims his move to Al-Ettifaq was not financially motivated
- The ex-Liverpool captain has been heavily criticised after speaking on the move
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off!
Brendan Rodgers has defended Jordan Henderson’s £700,000 per week move to Saudi Arabian giants Al-Ettifaq.
The former Liverpool captain was heavily criticised earlier this week after he urged that his move to the Saudi Pro League was not motivated by money.
Henderson, who publicly and vocally advocated for LGBTQ+ rights during his time at Anfield, also faced backlash from supporters after agreeing the deal, as homosexuality is deemed a crime in Saudi Arabia and is punishable by the death penalty.
Ex-Liverpool boss Rodgers, who appointed Henderson captain in 2015, has leapt to the defence of his former player, slamming ‘morality officers’ for judging the move.
‘It’s their profession, it’s their life so they have to do what’s best for them,’ the now Celtic manager told talkSPORT on Wednesday.
Brendan Rodgers has defended Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabian giants Al-Ettifaq
Henderson, who played for Liverpool for 12 years, has received a huge backlash over his lucrative £700,000 per week salary – but he insists the move was not purely about money
‘There’s so many morality officers around the world nowadays that are judging people.
‘But Jordan I know extremely well and I know the love he had for Liverpool. He was at the stage of his career where he probably wasn’t going to be the first name on the team sheet anymore. At 32-years of age, he’s won absolutely everything.
‘He probably fancied a different challenge and out of respect, it probably didn’t feel right for him being at another Premier League club. So to go abroad and take on a new challenge clearly suited him.’
Henderson signed for Al-Ettifaq – managed by Reds legend Steven Gerrard – on a reported eye-watering weekly wage of £700,000, making him the highest-paid British footballer in history.
But the 33-year-old has refuted claims around his pay package and claimed that he felt compelled to leave Liverpool due to the importance of playing regular football ahead of Euro 2024.
‘There were a few things that sent alarm bells ringing,’ he told The Athletic on Tuesday, opening up on his predicament at Liverpool. ‘I’ve got a very good relationship with Jurgen. He was very honest with me.
Henderson has previously been a vocal ally of LGBTQ+ communities, wearing rainbow laces and armbands, but fans have accused him of abandoning those views by going to Saudi Arabia
The midfielder urged that remaining in Gareth Southgate’s England squad was a priority of his
‘I won’t go into detail about the conversation because it’s private, but it put me in a position where I knew that I wasn’t going to be playing as much. I knew there were going to be new players coming in my position.
‘And if I’m not playing, as anybody will know, especially the manager, that can be quite difficult for me and especially when I’ve been at a club for so long, I’ve captained the team for so long. Especially when England’s a big thing for me.
‘At that moment I felt as though my value or the want for me to stay, with the manager and within the club, maybe it had shifted. I knew that time would come at some point. I didn’t think it would be now. And I had to accept that.’
Henderson ended a 12-year stay at Liverpool that saw him lift eight trophies as captain, but some fans claim his tenure on Merseyside has ended on a sour note after he opted for riches of Saudi Arabia.
But Henderson has dismissed suggestions he was collecting £700,000-a-week at Al-Ettifaq and vowed he’s struggled with the claim that he only joined the club for financial reasons.
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The England star said his value had ‘shifted’ and was not assured of starts under Jurgen Klopp
‘That was the hardest thing,’ he added. ‘People will see this club come with loads of money and he’s just gone, “Yeah, I’m going.” When in reality that just wasn’t the case at all. People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation. Ever.’
Rodgers did admit that players are swayed by the whopping contracts on offer in Saudi Arabia, particularly when they are entering the twilight of their careers.
‘It’s definitely something that makes players wobble because of the money that’s talked about and what it can do for players and the legacy it can create for their families for years down the line,’ he added.
‘What makes [Saudi Arabia] dangerous is not only the money, they have a plan. The plan is attracting top players and looking to get top managers out there.’
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