Jürgen Klopp has spoken of his admiration for Jordan Henderson's illustrious career at Liverpool after the midfielder made a "tough decision" to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson's move to the Gulf state reunites him with former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who recently took charge of Al-Ettifaq. The 33-year-old has signed a lucrative three-year contract worth $450,000 (£350,000) per week.
As he departs Anfield, Henderson leaves behind a legacy of success, having played a pivotal role in Liverpool's trophy-laden period from 2019 to 2022, winning every major honor with the club. Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Klopp described Henderson's departure as "sad" and "absolutely strange," but expressed gratitude to his former captain for his contribution to Liverpool's trophy haul.
"In the moment, it is absolutely fine but it was already ongoing for a while now, so we had time to adapt to it and get used to it. It is football, it is life, it is normal, these kind of things happen," Klopp said.
"On Monday when we arrived back in Liverpool, Hendo was waiting for us to say goodbye properly to the team and to the coaching staff as well, so that was a really nice gesture — a really nice thing to do. I know it was a really, really tough decision for Hendo and I was around or with him all the way.
"It's sad, absolutely strange, because he is the only captain I had here at Liverpool, but I think it is exciting for him as well. We will miss him, without a shadow of a doubt, that's clear — as a man and as a player. But, as I said, that's football."
Henderson, who joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011, left the club's training base in Germany last week after a $15m (£12m/€14m) deal was agreed between Liverpool and Al-Ettifaq. Henderson's move to Saudi Arabia makes him the latest high-profile Premier League player to join the league, but he is the first from the England national team to do so.
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However, his transfer has sparked controversy and criticism, particularly from the LGBTQ+ community, as Henderson had previously expressed his support for equality. Despite the backlash, Henderson is set to embark on a new chapter in his career in the Middle East.
"Hendo is a really good package, a really good package," said Klopp. "There is the physical part, but there is the super-technical part. He is technically really, really good, which sometimes players, because of the role they see themselves on the pitch, this fighter and stuff like this, don't always show.
"You cannot have this amount of Premier League games, you cannot be captain of Liverpool, you cannot play in the most important games in the world if you are technically not on a super-high level — and he is.
"Right foot, left foot really good. Tactically he improved the most since we are here, had to play different positions, did that really well. Even played center-half for us. Had to play number six, I thought he played a few outstanding games on six."
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