Jordan Henderson joins Ajax after 'mutually agreeing' with Al Ettifaq to end contract

Midfielder quits Saudi Pro League side and signs two-and-a-half year deal with Eredivisie club

Ajax's new signing, the England midfielder Jordan Henderson, gives a press conference. AFP
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Jordan Henderson has joined Ajax on a two-and-a-half year deal after “mutually agreeing” to terminate his contract with Saudi Pro League side Al Ettifaq.

The England midfielder only moved to the kingdom last summer from Liverpool but has decided to cut short his stay in the Middle East after just six months and 17 SPL games.

Henderson finalised terms and underwent a medical in Amsterdam before the Eredivisie club announced a deal had been done later on Thursday.

It means former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard, now in charge at Ettifaq, has lost the services of a key player with the club languishing mid-table, 28 points behind leaders Al Hilal.

“Firstly, the club would like to thank Jordan for his efforts and wish him the best for his future endeavours,” said club president Samer Al Misehal in a statement. "We are always respectful of our players.

“The club and Jordan believe this quick decision, without any delay or further distraction, has been made for both the overall good of the club and for Jordan.”

Henderson was thought to be concerned that his chances of making England's Euro 2024 squad would be hit if he stayed at Ettifaq, while there were also reports that his family, who live in neighbouring Bahrain, struggled to settle in the region.

“I'm sad to say that I will be leaving Al Ettifaq with immediate effect,” Henderson wrote on social media.

“It wasn't an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the club and the fans for all the support during my time. I really felt the love from day one.

“I'll keep watching and hoping for your success. Good luck for the future.”

The 33-year-old will be joining an Ajax side who are also experiencing a difficult campaign and are fifth in the Eredivisie, 23 points behind table-topping PSV Eindhoven.

“We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities,” Ajax coach John van 't Schip told the club's website.

“Partially due to injuries in the team, we were looking for someone who could step in immediately. Jordan Henderson is that type of player.

“His arrival means a huge enhancement for our squad. Both on and off the pitch, a football player of this calibre is important for our many young players.

“He's an English international player and has won the Champions League and many other prizes with Liverpool. I am happy he's here.”

Henderson is unlikely to be able to feature against RKC Waalwijk on Sunday as a non-EU national, Henderson's work permit is likely to take up to two weeks to be granted.

He started his career at hometown club Sunderland before joining Liverpool in 2011. He went on to play 492 times for the Reds, scoring 33 goals and winning seven major trophies at the Merseyside club.

Updated: January 22, 2024, 7:27 PM