It came as somewhat of a surprise when Steven Gerrard, manager of El Ettifaq, managed to get Jordan Henderson out of Liverpool.
While it was a bit unexpected from the fan’s perspective, the ex-Liverpool skipper believed that a lack of predicted minutes forced him out of the club – despite the financial incentives of the Saudi Pro-League (SPL).
In an interview with the SPL, Steven Gerrard revealed why he was so intent on bringing the 33-year-old to his club:
“I think when you’re the coach, the manager, you want players going into games that can be an extended version of the staff.”
“People, who can really help on-pitch coaching; where the team needs to be in terms of distances, to make on-field decisions.”
“Myself and Jordan, we have that trust. We played together and he’s a fantastic player still, a fantastic human being.”
“For us, to execute that signing was key and very important and I think a lot of the other signings we made came on the back of Jordan agreeing to come here.”
“I think he wanted to still play, I think that was the key.”
“He was at Liverpool at the time, he’s had a fantastic career, he’s achieved everything at that club, he’s been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club.”
Gerrard then admitted that he understood Henderson’s plight, that not getting many minutes as an ageing player is a tough position to be in.
The ex-Rangers manager then drew a parallel between his own experiences under Brendan Rogers and Henderson’s under Jurgen Klopp:
“But I think in the previous months, maybe him not being a regular starter in the team, when you get to that age, I’ve been there myself under Brendan Rodgers,” Gerrard continued.
“When you’re the captain, you play all the games, then all of a sudden you’re on the bench or you’re not getting as many minutes as you’d like.”
“That’s when you analyse and think about a different challenge.”
“And when we knew it was a possibility, I wanted to be aggressive and wanted that to be my first signing, because for me it was a no-brainer.”
“Still a fantastic player, he’s a leader, an on-pitch coach.”
“His standards on how he lives his daily life on and off the pitch is good for our young players to see, watch and learn,” the Liverpool legend explained.
“Jordan understands the size of the project, that it’s not a quick fix.”
“He wants to be part of the journey and building it with us, but he was a very important signing at a key time.”