Jurgen Klopp admits 'surprise' to Jordan Henderson's controversial Saudi move

Jurgen Klopp (R) Jordan Henderson (L) – Jurgen Klopp admits 'surprise' to Jordan Henderson's controversial Saudi move

Jurgen Klopp (right): ‘We had a relationship for eight years, he knew the situation that we wanted to keep him’ – Shutterstock/Ronald Wittek

Jurgen Klopp has admitted he was surprised that Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson decided to leave the club to complete a £700,000-a-week deal at Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia.

Henderson, 33, ended his 12-year spell at Liverpool by securing a £12 million move to the Saudi club. Henderson signed a three-year contract with Al Ettifaq, who are managed by former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.

The England international’s decision to make the move has resulted in a backlash from LGBTQ+ groups who have accsued Henderson of hypocrisy for moving to a country where homosexuality is illegal after previously using his platform to stand up for their rights.

Liverpool manager Klopp has also revealed that the club were keen to keep the midfielder but were not going to stand in his way.

“Was I surprised when Henderson said he wanted to move on? Of course,” Klopp said. “We had a relationship for eight years. He knew the situation that we wanted to keep him but if he wanted to leave we weren’t going to throw rocks and stones in the way. It was about reacting to it.

“Jordan will miss us and we will miss him. We have to go on and we will. That is clear.”

Thomas Hitzlsperger, a former Premier League footballer who is openly gay, hit out at Henderson’s move by tweeting: “So Jordan Henderson finally gets his move to Saudi. Fair play to him, he can play wherever he wants to play. Curious to know though how the new brand JH will look like. The old one is dead! I did believe for a while that his support for the LGBTQ community would be genuine. Silly me.”

Henderson has become just one of many Premier League players to make the switch to the Middle Eastern country this summer, with former Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino already joining Al Ahly and Fabinho set secure a £40 million move to Al Ittihad.

All three exits have been a part of a midfield overhaul at Anfield this summer with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Naby Kieta also leaving the club. The club have already signed RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai and Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister coming in.

But having already had bid turned down for Southampton’s Romeo Lavia, Klopp also admitted the club are looking to strengthen further in midfield this summer. Speaking on the club’s pre-season tour in Singapore, he said: “It’s definitely important to strengthen in midfield. We have to do something, that is clear. We are working on solutions. First people want changes, now everyone is worrying about the changes. We are really optimistic about it. Excited as well.”

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