Henderson’s Failed Experiment
In a stunning twist of football fate, Jordan Henderson is set to leave Al Ettifaq and join Ajax, as reported by David Ornstein in The Athletic. Henderson, who moved to the Saudi Pro League last summer, is now gearing up for a dramatic return to European football with the Dutch giants. Ornstein informs us, “Jordan Henderson has reached an agreement with Al Ettifaq to leave the Saudi Pro League club and is close to joining Ajax on a permanent basis.” This move marks a significant shift for the 33-year-old midfielder, whose journey has been anything but ordinary.
The Brief Saudi Stint
Henderson’s venture into Saudi Arabian football was short-lived but noteworthy. Joining Al Ettifaq last July, he defended his move, expressing a desire to “achieve something special and build a club and build the league.” Despite his ambitions and playing under Steven Gerrard, his stay in the SPL was brief. With only 17 appearances and four assists, Henderson’s departure, as Ornstein notes, signifies a rapid change of heart, perhaps hinting at a deeper sense of disillusionment with his Gulf state adventure.
Ajax’s Rebuilding Phase
Ajax’s recent struggles provide a backdrop to Henderson’s potential arrival. As Ornstein highlights, “Ajax are unbeaten in the league [under John van ‘t Schip] and have risen to fifth place… but remain 23 points behind runaway leaders PSV.” This stat underscores Ajax’s desperate need for experienced leadership and tactical nous, something Henderson, with his Premier League and international experience, can undoubtedly offer.
Unpacking Henderson’s Decision
What makes this move so intriguing is Henderson’s initial commitment to a new challenge in Saudi Arabia and his rapid U-turn. His comments about seeking excitement and a new challenge reveal a player in search of meaning beyond the pitch. However, his return to European football with Ajax suggests a reevaluation of his career priorities and perhaps, a realization that his influence and legacy could be better served in a more competitive and familiar environment.
Henderson’s Impact on Ajax
Henderson’s arrival at Ajax could be a game-changer for the club. His experience, leadership, and quality can galvanize a team struggling to find its footing. As Ornstein points out, Ajax’s resurgence under interim coach John van ‘t Schip is promising, but the addition of a player of Henderson’s caliber could accelerate their return to the top of Dutch football.