England midfielder Jordan Henderson has joined Dutch club Ajax on a two-and-half-year deal after less than six months at Al-Ettifaq.
Al-Ettifaq agreed to terminate his contract to facilitate the move.
“I’m sad to say that I will be leaving Al Ettifaq with immediate effect,” Henderson wrote on social media.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the club and the fans for all the support during my time. I really felt the love from day one.
“I’ll keep watching and hoping for your success. Good luck for the future.”
As a prominent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community during his time at Anfield, Henderson was criticised for making the move to Saudi Arabia where same-sex sexual activity is illegal.
He said he was “really hurt” by the backlash, adding his intention has always been to “help causes and communities”.
However, recent reports suggested Henderson had failed to settle in Saudi Arabia; he leaves Al-Ettifaq having made just 17 league appearances.
BBC Sport was told the split between the Saudi Pro League and Henderson was amicable, and the financial implications of his departure are said to be “positive” for the Saudis.
Al-Ettifaq president Samer Al Misehal said: “Firstly, the club would like to thank Jordan for his efforts and wish him the best for his future endeavours.
“We are always respectful of our players. The club and Jordan believe this quick decision, without any delay or further distraction, has been made for both the overall good of the club and for Jordan.”
Ajax, who have endured a difficult campaign so far, are 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie.
“We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities,” said Ajax boss John van ‘t Schip.
“Partially due to injuries in the team, we were looking for someone who could step in immediately. Jordan Henderson is that type of player.”
Henderson began his career at hometown club Sunderland before joining Liverpool in 2011 in a deal reported to be worth £20m.
He played 492 times for the Reds, scoring 33 goals and registering 57 assists, and won seven major trophies with the club.
“His arrival means a huge enhancement for our squad. Both on and off the pitch, a football player of this calibre is important for our many young players.
“He’s an English international player and has won the Champions League and many other prizes with Liverpool. I am happy he’s here, and I think it’s very good for our club.”
More to follow.
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