- Henderson left Liverpool for Al-Ettifaq
- Faced huge public backlash
- Sutton claimed that the midfielder went to the club for money
WHAT HAPPENED? Henderson's transfer to Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia stirred massive controversy due to Saudi Arabia's criminalization of homosexuality, contrasting with Henderson's vocal support for LGBTQ+ rights. However, the midfielder claimed that he joined Al-Ettifaq to "grow the game" in Saudi Arabia and because his "value had shifted" at Liverpool. He even denied reports of earning as much as £700,000 per week and clarified that his intention "was never to hurt anyone."
However, Sutton was having none of it and instead claimed that it was only money that prompted the England international to leave Anfield.
WHAT THEY SAID: "So, you know he went off to Saudi for the money, didn't he? That's essentially it. I don't know why he just doesn't stick to that and just say that," Sutton told to Mail Sport's It's All Coming Up podcast.
"You know, a couple of years ago had Jordan Henderson being questioned about the possibility of going to Saudi Arabia when the league was up and running, we know that he wouldn't have had any interest.
"The only interest going to Saudi Arabia is for people to earn huge amounts of money. And do you know what? That's OK. But just say it, you know, don't get involved in arguments about culture, you know, and other people are burying their heads in the sand.
"The only person who's burying the head somewhere is Jordan Henderson and that's somewhere which you know he shouldn't be burying his head at the minute," he added.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Liverpool have strung together a new-look midfield involving Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch from Bayern Munich after the departure of several key players like Fabinho, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Henderson himself.
Sutton questioned whether Henderson was prepared enough to face the challenges posed by Liverpool's new summer signings and hence sought to escape Anfield to ensure regular game time.
"When Jordan explained that he left Liverpool, not for the money he says, but because he didn't think he was going to be in Jurgen Klopp's plans. Jordan Henderson has never struck me as a type of footballer who would not want to hang around and fight for his place," he said.
"It surprised me a little bit, the type of character I think we've all perceived Jordan to be over the years as a real fighter. But the stuff he talked about, the conversation with Jorg (Schmadtke - Liverpool's sporting director) and (Jurgen) Klopp and not feeling valued, I don't get that.
"He was still under contract at Liverpool and maybe he just couldn't stomach the fight for his place up against, you know, the likes of McAllister and Szoboszlai going in."
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WHAT NEXT? It remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate uses Henderson in the two upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Ukraine and Scotland on September 9 and 12 respectively.