Rodgers says Henderson critics are 'morality officers'

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has defended Jordan Henderson amid criticism from “morality officers” over the midfielder’s move from Liverpool to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq.

The former Liverpool captain, as a long-time supporter of the LGBT+ community, has drawn widespread condemnation for his decision to move to a country where homosexuality is illegal.

However, Rodgers - who managed Henderson during his three years at Anfield - says players have the right to choose where they ply their trade.

"It's their profession, it's their life so they have to do what's best for them," he told talkSPORT. "There are 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 and will always have for Liverpool.

"He was at the stage of his career where he probably wasn't going to be the first name on the teamsheet any more.

"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."

Winger Jota left Celtic to join the influx of talent to Saudi Arabia this summer with a £25m move to Al-Ittihad, who are one of four clubs backed by the country's sovereign wealth fund.

Rodgers said: "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.

"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."