England midfielder Jordan Henderson has completed a transfer to Dutch giants Ajax just six months after signing for Saudi Arabia’s Al Ettifaq.
Henderson has signed a 2½-year contract with the Eredivisie club.
Al Ettifaq revealed they had reached a mutual agreement to terminate Henderson’s contract with immediate effect.
Henderson, 33, will take a huge pay cut from his Saudi salary — thought to be at least £350,000 a week ($443,000).
“I’d like to thank the club, the fans and all involved for the opportunity and wish them the best for the remainder of the season,” Henderson said. “A lot of hard work is going in which I know will pay off in the future.”
Henderson moved to Saudi last July on a three-year contract, bringing an end to his 12-year stay at Liverpool, and reuniting with Al Ettifaq manager and former Anfield teammate Steven Gerrard.
Al Ettifaq are eighth in the Saudi Pro League after a string of poor results. However, following the departure of Henderson, Al Ettifaq announced that Gerrard had signed a two-year contract extension through 2027.
Henderson faced a fierce initial backlash to the move given the country’s poor human rights record, including laws that state homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.
He had been an outspoken advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to the transfer and struggled to justify his decision in a September interview with The Athletic in which he insisted he was not solely motivated by money and relished the chance to make the Saudi league “one of the best in the world.”
While he has continued to be selected by England manager Gareth Southgate during his time in Saudi Arabia, Henderson has been booed by sections of his country’s fans at Wembley Stadium.
After a troubled start to the season, Ajax currently sits fifth in the Eredivisie standings, 23 points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven.
“We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities,” Ajax manager John van ‘t Schip said in a team release. Partly because of injuries, we were also looking for someone who could be there immediately. Jordan Henderson is such a player.
“His arrival means a major boost in quality for our selection. A footballer of this caliber is important for the many young players, both on and off the field. He is an English international and has won the Champions League and many other trophies with Liverpool. I am happy with his arrival and I think it is very good for our club that he is an Ajax player from today.”