Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson could leave Anfield this summer.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has an obvious successor in Virgil van Dijk to turn to if captain Jordan Henderson leaves the club this summer. There are contrasting reports around the England midfielder with some suggestions a move to Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia is ‘very advanced’.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has just taken over at the Middle Eastern club and reports have claimed he would love to sign his former team-mate. But it is unclear whether any move will happen, and particularly whether Jurgen Klopp would be willing to part ways with his skipper.
The Reds are rebuilding their midfield and have signed Dominik Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister already this summer. They now have eight central midfielders on the books and it is expected as a result that Henderson will no longer be a guaranteed starter in high-profile fixtures which could tempt him to depart.
But the 33-year-old has been integral in Liverpool’s success under Klopp. He has been the club’s captain since 2015 when the 33-year-old took the armband from Gerrard. He has won every single trophy in that time and has made 268 appearances as a skipper since.
And losing him and Milner in the same summer would see the club’s dressing room irrevocably changed. The pair’s presence has consistently been hailed, with Klopp saying of Henderson last year: “He’s captain of my side because he was captain when I arrived here and I saw no need to change it – that’s maybe the biggest compliment.
“I didn’t know Hendo when I arrived here; I knew him as a player but not as a person. He brings everything you need to lead a football team.” Klopp even reduced Henderson to tears with a speech when the player was named the FWA Footballer of the Year, in which he said: “I know the human being behind the player, you would deserve an award for that as well.”
Replacing Henderson’s impact behind the scenes would be a big ask. But Liverpool may have an obvious next captain at the club in Virgil van Dijk, who skippers The Netherlands national team and was voted into the Anfield leadership group by his team-mates five years ago just months after arriving.
Van Dijk was the third-choice last season after Vice Milner and has already worn the armband 43 times – the third most of any player post-Gerrard. He has been the Netherlands captain since March 2018 and led them out at the Qatar World Cup, where they lost on penalties to eventual winners Argentina in the quarter-finals.
The Dutchman is also one of the most-used players under Klopp. That will continue next season despite Van Dijk’s questionable form in 2022-23. He remains integral to Liverpool’s team as the commanding marshal of the back line and is under contract until the end of the 2024-25 campaign.
Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, and Alisson are other credible options with all three in the club’s leadership group. But should Henderson decide to quit Anfield to link up with Gerrard in the Saudi Pro League, Van Dijk would appear an easy pick to replace him as the leader of the dressing room.