Jordan Henderson has reached an agreement with Al-Ettifaq to leave the Saudi Professional League club and is close to joining Ajax permanently, according to sources familiar with the deal.
The England international and his current club are finalizing a three-year contract he signed last summer, ensuring there will be no transfer fees involved in the midfielder's exit.
Meanwhile, Henderson returns to the UK from Al-Ettifaq's winter training camp in Abu Dhabi, having agreed a move to Ajax in principle.
The proposed move would also require paperwork and details to be ironed out before the 33-year-old former Liverpool midfielder's return to European football after a short spell in the English Premier League is completed.
Henderson's departure from Saudi Arabia comes only six months after his move from Anfield.
Henderson ended a 12-year stay at Liverpool last July to move to Saudi Arabia, and in September, he defended his transfer after widespread criticism, saying: The athlete In an exclusive interview, he said he wanted to “achieve something special, build the club and build the league.”
He played 17 times in the Premier League, recording four assists for the team managed by his former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, but left midway through his first season with the club.
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Speaking about his move, Henderson said: “I wanted something that would interest me. But it had to be something where I felt like I could add value and do and try something new – a new challenge and for different reasons.
He added: “And this opportunity with Stevie (Gerrard) in a completely different league and a completely different culture was something completely different and probably excited us in terms of the project that was put in front of us, in terms of the league and using my skills.” An experience of trying to help with that in many different areas and feeling like people appreciate them.
“It's nice to feel wanted. I know Stevie really wants me. I know the club really wants me gone and they want us to try and build over the next few years, something that is here to stay and be one of the best leagues in the world.”
Last June, the Saudi Ministry of Sports announced that the country's Public Investment Fund would take over the management of four teams in the Saudi Professional League: Al-Ahly, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Al-Nasr. Several high-profile signings followed the announcement, with Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino and Sergej Milinković-Savic among those to join Henderson in swapping European football for the Gulf state.
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Meanwhile, Ajax have struggled for most of 2023. After recording their worst finish in the Eredivisie (3rd place) since last season 2008-09, the Amsterdam club has started this season poorly.
Maurice Stein lasted just 11 games before being sacked in October, with Ajax sitting second in the league having won just five points from their first seven Eredivisie matches.
But results improved significantly under interim coach John Van't Schip. Since his appointment on October 30, Ajax are unbeaten in the league and have climbed to fifth place thanks to seven wins and two draws from nine games – but remain 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven and 11 behind second-placed Feyenoord, who occupies the final. Place to qualify for the Champions League.
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