Jordan Henderson left out of Liverpool squad as Al Ettifaq step up interest

Jordan Henderson could be on his way to Saudi Arabia – Getty Images/Andrew Powell

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been left out of the club’s first pre-season friendly amid ongoing interest from Saudi Arabia.

Manager Jurgen Klopp took the significant decision to omit the skipper ahead of the fixture against Karlsruher on Wednesday evening. Henderson has been part of the training camp, but his absence serves only to increase the likelihood a departure is looming.

Until Wednesday, Liverpool were adamant that the interest in Henderson from Al-Ettifaq – the club coached by Kop legend Steven Gerrard – was more ‘noise’ than a reflection of a formal offer or even talks between the clubs. The Saudis are known to have made a contract offer in excess of £30 million a year to Henderson via his representatives, but Liverpool are adamant they want a significant transfer fee.

The lack of movement since news of interest in him became public raised the possibility of the England international being left in limbo, but there is an expectation the Saudis will move to get the deal over the line.

Liverpool have thus far offered no indication as to whether they are receptive to the idea of Henderson leaving, or would rather he saw out the last two years of his contract.

However, Klopp leaving Henderson out for the first warm-up match will be interpreted as a clear hint that he is preparing to go into the new season without his skipper. Equally, today’s decision could be to take him out of the public eye until the situation is resolved.

At 33, Henderson’s role in the Liverpool squad was due to evolve. He is no longer a guaranteed starter, so has been considering his future since the Saudi offer was put to him.

Liverpool are also without Fabinho in Germany, the 29-year-old having been given permission to agree terms with Al-Ittihad as talks progress on a £40 million deal.

Fabinho is close to becoming the fourth senior midfielder to leave Anfield since May.

Neither his nor Henderson’s exit was anticipated until a few weeks ago, the Saudi interest with the potential to be destabilising unless Liverpool react quickly to secure replacements.

Henderson has faced criticism for considering an offer from the Saudis because of his previous comments regarding human rights, especially with regards to the LGBT community.

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