Jordan Henderson, in the eyes of many, is a Liverpool legend.
And rightly so.
Having recently celebrated 10 years at the club, Henderson has won a variety of trophies, such as the Champions League, the Club World Cup and the Super cup, as well as becoming the first Liverpool captain since Alan Hansen in 1990 to lift a league title.
So, why is the question of extending Henderson’s tenure with the club even up for debate?
Well, it’s not really, especially not amongst the fans – whom Henderson had to fight to win over in his early years at the club, as well as when he become captain in 2015, replacing Steven Gerrard – who worship Henderson.
The debate surrounding Henderson’s contract comes from the Anfield boardroom.
Liverpool owners FSG have been famously reluctant in awarding players that are over 30, with Henderson turning 31 in June, long-term contracts.
This contract saga even went as far as David Ornstein of The Athletic reporting in July that Henderson could exit the club, with PSG and Bayern Munich interested.
While tensions seem to have cooled since – and a new contract looks more likely – here’s why Liverpool should extend Jordan Henderson’s contract.
We’ll start with the obvious skill that Jordan Henderson possess, his leadership.
As mentioned, he took over the reigns of Liverpool captain in 2015 – in what was a huge decision from then manager Brendan Rodgers. Henderson took over from long-time captain and Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard, at a time where Henderson’s qualities were still in doubt – with many feeling the armband should’ve gone to Daniel Agger.
However, it seems that the captaincy kickstarted Henderson’s Liverpool career.
Skip forward to the Jurgen Klopp era, Henderson has come into his own as Liverpool captain and has drawn praise from his fellow players, ex-players and pundits alike, with Trent Alexander-Arnold saying in 2020: ““Jordan is the perfect role model, you can see how much being captain of this football club means to him. Anyone who isn’t pulling their weight gets a bollocking off him.”
Henderson’s leadership is clear to see to the fans as well, with his voice booming around Anfield on matchday, barking instructions to his teammates that can be heard around the ground, or even over the TV.
He really is Leadership personified.
Despite Liverpool having a squad that is beginning to age, Henderson’s experience – one of his most underrated attributes – continues to shine through.
Over his 10 years at Liverpool, Henderson has made 393 appearences for Liverpool across all competitions – an impressive tally when you consider the injury issues he faced earlier in his Liverpool career – missing a large part of the 2015/16 season through injury.
Henderson’s experience is vast, he has featured in every major competition for Liverpool, as well as in major tournaments with England – all of which will benefit Henderson as he helps younger talent at Liverpool, both established, like Trent Alexander-Arnold, and those just coming through into the first team, such as Harvey Elliot.
It’s experience like this that will be crucial as Henderson enters into the latter years of his career, with it being highly likely that will we see Henderson take a similar role to that of Steven Gerrard in his later years with Liverpool.
As Gerrard’s time drew to a close, he worked closely with Henderson – helping Henderson manage the transition from Gerrard’s midfield partner, to captain of the club. With Alexander-Arnold the likely heir to the captaincy at Liverpool when Henderson one day steps away from the club, Henderson’s experience will be vital – it truly is one of his most underrated qualities.
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The most important quality as a Footballer, obviously, is one that Henderson possess’ bags of.
During his time at Liverpool, Henderson has been one of the most consistently underrated players in the league, especially under Jurgen Klopp – attracting criticism from rival fans.
The quality Henderson brings to Liverpool, and England, is not one that can be measured by stats, as Tim Sherwood commented: “I think what Jordan Henderson gives you, a stats man can’t show you. Okay?
“You’re not seeing what he does. You can see what someone gives you on assists and goals and passes – they don’t see in the dressing room, they don’t see around the training ground.”
Henderson keeps Liverpool ticking – a vital part of success in modern day Football – he keeps Liverpool in a rhythm, doing whatever needs to be done to ensure Liverpool keeping playing to the high standards instituted by Jurgen Klopp and his backroom staff.
Henderson has an incredibly high level of fitness, he is an excellent passer of the ball, brave and committed in his tackling, strong in the air and a good level of physicality – just to name a few of his skills.
Whilst Henderson isn’t known for his goals and assists, that’s not his job within this Liverpool team, the goals come from the sides four attackers (Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota) – although at times they could do with some help – and assists come from those four and Liverpool’s flying full-backs (Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold). It is Henderson’s job to do whatever those players need him to do to allow them to play the way they do.
Drop in with the two centre-backs to allow the full-backs to press forward? Henderson does it. Create dummy runs down the flanks to drag a man wide, creating space to attack in the process? Henderson does it. Press forward and create an option for the attackers to play off of? Henderson does it and then some.
Fill in a centre-back for a prolonged period due to an injury crisis? Henderson did it excellently. Fill in at right-back? Not a problem, Henderson will do it. Fill in at the No.6 role? Henderson does it. All of this whilst still nailing down his place in the No.8 role year-after-year.
There is nothing he won’t do, or can’t do, for his team, an opinion echoed by Trent Alexander-Arnold who said: ““He’s not bothered about being in the spotlight, he’s happy to go under the radar and just go about his job, and he does everything for the team rather than himself.”
Jordan Henderson is a Liverpool legend, and here’s to many more years of him.
Featured image – (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)