It was the last piece of news many supporters expected on the eve of the pre-season campaign, yet zero rebuttals from either the player’s representatives or club show all the present information is straight fact.
Henderson, who turned 31 in June, has two years remaining on his Liverpool contract and is looking for improved terms.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s American owners FSG have an unwavering stance when it comes to handing out lucrative terms to stars entering the twilight of their career – as seen very recently with the departure of the ever-present Georginio Wijnaldum.
Surely, however, this cannot be allowed to unfold once more with the club captain. And not only any captain either, Henderson goes down as one of the most successful Liverpool have ever had.
Liverpool’s owners have put Jurgen Klopp in a tricky spot regarding Jordan Henderson’s future
The 31-year-old goes down as one of the most successful captain’s the club has ever had
Positions in any elite level squad with league and Champions League ambitions will always be subject to intense competition, but it has long been accepted that Henderson’s place within the Liverpool XI is bulletproof.
The skipper is the beating heart of Anfield and is by far and away the most vocal individual on the pitch on matchdays.
Make no mistake about it though, Henderson’s presence in the Liverpool team isn’t purely adrenaline, motivation and hot air. He is one of the most accomplished midfielders Anfield has seen for years.
The stats speak for themselves, and the Sunderland-born star makes Jurgen Klopp’s red machine tick.
Liverpool’s principle owner John W Henry (seen behind Henderson, right) is a tough negotiator
Henderson played a huge role in helping Liverpool become champions of Europe and England
Taking figures from Klopp’s first full season as manager of Liverpool, which began in the summer of 2016, the club have lost 13 of the 116 league games where Henderson has been in the line-up; a total of just 11 per cent of matches.
In the same period, up until present day, 56 league games have been started without Henderson and Liverpool have been beaten 10 times; showing an increase to 18 per cent.
Henderson’s playing role has been, for many years, vastly underappreciated. It is only when the skipper is not in the Liverpool line-up that he is truly valued.
Last season fans were pining for a midfield three of Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara – yet due to injuries saw this just once, against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
The Reds dominated in the match and would have clinched the tie, but for Henderson’s match-winning goal being chalked off due to the most hairline VAR calls against Sadio Mane.
Thiago would go on to get crunched by Richarlison in the same match, resigning him to the treatment room for a long stretch and becoming one of the first stepping stones to sending the season spiraling into disarray.
The owners’ refusal to hand big contracts to aging stars saw Gini Wijnaldum leave this summer
This was where Henderson really stepped up and was counted. One week the skipper was playing in a deep lying No.6 position, the next slotting in at centre back when more injuries were to bite.
Henderson filled in wherever the manager needed him, while also offering his services much higher up the pitch behind the forward line.
Liverpool have scored an average of 1.27 goals per game when he has started, throughout Klopp’s tenure. That figure drops to 0.59 goals per game when he hasn’t.
Henderson’s all round contribution must be taken into consideration when it comes to a new deal. Sure, he has two years remaining, but this is a situation which could fast become ugly.
It isn’t a great look, particularly when the individual in question has never been anything but a model professional and a dedicated servant to the red shirt.
Liverpool and the owners have been here before with a cherished skipper, let’s not forget.
Liverpool have been in an awkward situation like this before with club legend Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard found himself in a rather similar position some six years ago, when he was informed by former boss Brendan Rodgers that his game time would become limited.
After considering his position and looking to the club’s hierarchy for guidance, it quickly became clear that no long-term contract would be forthcoming and Gerrard, regrettably, announced he would be departing at the season’s end.
It left a sour taste. Gerrard may have been 34 at the time and well into his twilight, though his experience was still required.
With Henderson however it is completely different. The Reds’ No.14 is still very much at the top of his game and only last year was named Football Writers Association player of the year.
Given he will be 33 when his current deal draws to an end, it is understandable that the decision-makers in the Anfield boardroom are exercising caution, but Henderson’s importance to this Liverpool team cannot be understated.
On the whole his injury record reads favourably, with the player being teetotal and looking after himself in every possible way off the pitch.
It is not inconceivable that Henderson could continue performing at the highest level well into his late 30s, in the very same manner as his current vice captain James Milner.
Just last year Henderson was named the Football Writers Association player of the year
Liverpool as a club and a fanbase are desperate to remain at the pinnacle of world football, challenging for the major honours which they have only recently lifted.
Players like Henderson form the backbone of great clubs, and FSG have some serious thinking to do.
Their stern and quite often cold policy of refusing to allow aging stars to overstay their welcome is admirable – in some senses – but on this occasion it’s time to read the room.
Compromises must be made and Liverpool cannot afford to lose one of their most successful ever captains this summer, or next. That’s the bottom line.