Liverpool's owners must avoid another PR disaster by sorting Henderson's future


PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi made a bold statement about Kylian Mbappe a few weeks back.

“I will be clear, Mbappé is going to stay in Paris. We will never sell him and he will never leave on a free. Where can he go? What club, in terms of ambition, can compete with PSG today?,” he asked.

It was a nice try at bigging up his plaything but it’s hardly ambition that attracts the top players to PSG. It’s the wages and inducements. Hence Al-Khelaifi being able to use Qatar’s oil money to coax three of the best “free” agents available this summer – Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Gini Wijnaldum.

Which is why the linking of Jordan Henderson to Paris doesn’t really add up. Ramos is 35 and Wijnaldum is 31 in December. Angel Di Maria is 33, Ander Herrera is 32 next month and Neymar is 30 in February. Do they really want another 31-year-old midfielder? Especially one who has two years left on his contract meaning they would have to pay Liverpool a decent fee plus the huge wages to lure him from Anfield.

Would Atletico Madrid, or any of the biggest English clubs put together a monster package for 31-year-old Henderson in this climate? It’s doubtful.



Liverpool have not made any progress on a new contract for Henderson

So you can see why Liverpool are in no hurry to give his agent everything he’s asking for in a new deal when the one they have ties him up until he’s 33, meaning he can’t reach an agreement with another club until January 2023.

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But would letting this bad feeling fester into next season be a good idea for the club, especially on the back of losing a gem in Wijnaldum, who, like Henderson, was pivotal to their recent triumphs? Especially when it would once more go against the wishes of Jurgen Klopp who sees his captain as not just a key player in his system but as a vital leader?

Liverpool owners FSG are facing serious questions about how to gradually break-up the title-winning side and bring in new blood, and the battering that Covid has given their profits doesn’t help. Their model is not PSG’s, Chelsea’s or Manchester City’s.



Liverpool's owners need to avoid another PR disaster
Liverpool’s owners need to avoid another PR disaster

There are five key players already 30, or coming up to that age, whose deals are running out: Virgil Van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Fabinho, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. They can’t all be given the long, costly contracts they demand because the return to the club wouldn’t be worth it. That’s why Wijnaldum’s demands for a four-year package, on double his money, was never going to happen.

Henderson has clearly heard that other contract renewals (including ones for Alisson, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold) are taking preference over his with improved terms on offer. Hence the leak that there’s a big gap between what he thinks he’s worth and Liverpool’s idea of a short-term deal dependent on appearances. Someone is clearly trying to force the club’s hand by going public with his discontent.

And as much as you can see why Liverpool would prioritise tying down younger and more globally sought-after players, Henderson’s situation needs addressing. He may not possess the skill of Salah or Van Dijk but he is still hugely valuable as a playing and galvanizing force.

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Both parties need to see sense and come up with a compromise because, after ten impeccable years, Henderson is owed that. Speculation over the captain’s future can’t be allowed to drift into next season threatening disharmony in the dressing room and disquiet among the fans.

The Boston-based owners have scored too many own goals of late by not reading the room 3,000 miles away. This is another PR disaster in the making that shouldn’t take too much goodwill to solve.

Get it sorted and move on.





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