Liverpool face difficult Jordan Henderson decision
Jordan Henderson enjoyed a steady rise during his first four seasons with Liverpool before he was announced as Steven Gerrard’s replacement as captain.
The midfielder joined the club for £20million from Sunderland in 2011, but struggled to make an impact in his first campaign at Anfield as the Reds could only finish eighth in the Premier League and that led to the dismissal of Kenny Dalglish.
Brendan Rodgers arrived as the Scot’s successor and signed Joe Allen, putting Henderson’s place in a crowded midfield under pressure.
The former Sunderland man failed to find his form in the 2012-13 campaign, with Rodgers pushing the midfielder towards the exit at Anfield by lining him up for a move to Fulham.
Henderson rejected the transfer and managed to break back into the side towards the end of the campaign, impressing alongside Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho.
He then began to flourish in the middle of the park in the next season both as an attacking threat and as a defensive shield for his team in their push towards the Premier League title.
The England international notched four goals and seven assists in the campaign but his dismissal against Manchester City saw him miss crucial matches against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, which ended Liverpool’s title dreams.
Henderson was then part of England’s dismal failure at the 2014 World Cup, although it did not affect his form on his return to Anfield. If anything he raised his game to a new level in the 2014-15 season, moving into a role further forward to ease the pressure on the ageing Gerrard.
Despite a fine campaign for the Reds, which included a career-high six goals and nine assists in the Premier League, the campaign would end in disappointment as the club finished outside the Champions League places and were knocked out in the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions.
Henderson was handed in the captain’s armband following Gerrard’s decision to leave the club but was powerless to stop his side’s slump in form at the start of the campaign, which saw the end of his second manager as Rodgers was sacked after the Merseyside derby.
The 25-year-old retained the captaincy under new boss Jurgen Klopp and led Liverpool out at Wembley in the final of the Capital One Cup, although their hopes of glory were dashed in a defeat on penalties to Manchester City.
Liverpool also look unlikely to finish the top four and it is hard to find many experts, such as those at oddschecker, who are tipping them to make it into the Champions League places.
As a result, the club will be without the additional financial benefits that come with playing in Europe’s elite competition and that will leave them with big decisions to make in the summer.
Henderson’s form this season has been mediocre, which may suggest that the Reds have seen the best of his play at Anfield considering he has played in a deeper role under Klopp.
He has been linked with both Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United and that may present the best chance for the club to see a return on their £20m investment.
It may allow Klopp to develop Emre Can in the middle of the park as well as target Mario Gotze to replace the England man, with James Milner on hand to provide an experienced hand to shepherd in the new era.
Gotze has displayed his quality for Borussia Dortmund under Klopp, playing a vital role in their two Bundesliga titles triumphs and run to the Champions League final in 2013.
He is likely to be available after struggling to break into the Bayern Munich team due to the fierce competition for places and would relish the opportunity to link up with his former boss at Anfield.
The German would become the focal point of the team, alleviating the pressure on Coutinho, which would make Henderson’s role in the team redundant, especially if Can continues to improve.
Henderson has been a fine servant for Liverpool in his five years at the club, but in order for them to kick on and become a regular fixture in the Champions League once again they may have to sacrifice him to ignite Klopp’s reign.