Jordan Henderson was ‘one of the best signings we have had’ says Saudi chief

Jordan Henderson - Jordan Henderson was 'one of the best signings we have had' says Saudi chief
Few considered Jordan Henderson's short spell with Al-Ettifaq a success, but the Saudi Pro League's vice-chairman Saad Al Lazeez, said the competition benefited 'a great deal' from his stay in the country - Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed

Jordan Henderson was “one of the best signings in the Saudi Pro League”, its vice-chair has claimed, as he rejected criticism over the disastrous six-month spell.

The England midfielder, now playing at Ajax, conceded he made a mistake by moving to the Middle East and has since apologised to people “hurt” by his decision to play there.

However, despite his short-lived stint in Saudi prompting uproar, the league’s vice-chairman, Saad Al Lazeez, has said his competition benefited “a great deal” from his stay in the country.

“Jordan Henderson, even though he left, was one of the best signings in the Saudi Pro League,” Al Lazeez told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit.

“We signed 93 players in the summer window, and I would say 28 to 30 of them would be in anybody’s list of the top 300 players, and you don’t expect all of them to stay. Sometimes things do not work out, sometimes the player does not adapt, you expect those things to happen,” Al Lazeez added.

Henderson, 33, had apologised after abandoning the Saudi league midway through the season to sign a two-and-half year deal with Ajax. Telegraph Sport reported how the former Liverpool captain has yet to earn a penny from his short time at Al-Ettifaq, having deferred salary payments on his lucrative three-year contract.

“In life if you want to call them regrets or mistakes you can call them that,” Henderson previously said over the move. “I’m not going to say I haven’t been hurt [by the boos playing for England]. I do care, people might think I don’t, but I do. I think a lot about football and how I treat other people so it does hurt. But I totally respect their opinion, I understand it. I’ve had to take it on the chin, as I’ve always done.”

Henderson had been accused of hypocrisy, having championed LGBTQ rights prior to playing in a nation where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

However, Al Lazeez said: “I still maintain Jordan Henderson was one of our best signings, we benefited a great deal from his signing, we’re learning a lot of lessons and we will continue to grow from there.

“We have been with Jordan throughout his journey from the day we signed him in the UK. We still maintain a good relationship with him. He’s a great guy, a great person. It just did not work out. So that’s life.”

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