… but Henderson still has the armband.
The reaction to Jordan Henderson’s camp releasing the information that new contract talks were at a bit of an impasse was remarkable, to say the least, and further evidence that supporter-led passions are not the best way to run a football club. It was a stray comment in an article by the respected James Pearce
in an article more about Wijnaldum (more on him later) than on the Captain himself. But, as political consultants say, never let a good crisis go to waste. Rapidly, journalist Dominic King, prostituting himself to the world of football agents, rushed out the story that not only were contract
talks at an impasse but that Henderson could be on the move this summer with Atletico Madrid and PSG monitoring the situation.
My good friend and Twitter maestro @P_Lazaridus (affectionately known as Laz) put out the following warning on July 14th, 5 days before the Hendo fiasco kicked off:
“Daily transfer window reminder that there’s a motive behind each and every transfer
rumor: a club looking to generate interest, or start a bidding war; an agent looking to
advertise availability, or get better wages for his client; a media outlet simply looking for
The Hendo scenario is a perfect example of this! The Athletic (publisher of Pearce’s work) juiced up the comments in the article’s teaser while King went full-on streetwalker to sell the idea to his Daily Mail audience that unrest at Anfield was big news.
The reality of all this is that Liverpool have 12 players (11 when Shaqiri leaves) whose contracts expire in 2023, Henderson being 1 of them. This is generally the time when the club starts thinking about renewal, giving everyone time for a transfer with a year to go if they are not sticking around. So negotiations are not news, they are as normal as training.
Players out of contract on June 30th 2023: Salah, Mane, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Firmino, Keita, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phillips, Ojo, Williams R.
The likely sticking point with the Liverpool Captain is FSG’s reluctance to extend contracts by more than a year beyond age 32, while the player will have just turned 33 when his contract expires. FSG would probably like to wait a year to see what condition he’s still in but may be offering an incentive-laden
extension at this point.
As the Liverpool fan base flapped on about this (some people just need a crisis and some politics with breakfast) everyone then jumped on Gini Wijnaldum’s comments. The former Liverpool star was critical of social media fans that didn’t make him feel loved. Media and drama students immediately spun in circles trying to aim for something, anything, alarmed that criticism of a player might suddenly be no longer kosher and that said criticism was the reason he departed. But Gini’s comments were 1) categorically not the reason he left, and 2) appropriate in calling out genuine abuse that players receive that includes bigoted comments but is certainly not limited to them. Just ask Dejan Lovren how well those death threats went over.
In my last act of penmanship titled “Don’t Panic” (which would still be suitable for this piece) I urged all Liverpool supporters to remain calm as Liverpool would find the right players for the squad in good time. With that in mind let’s take a look at an updated in and out column of players for the upcoming season.
Supporters have been patiently (and some impatiently) waiting for new signings to arrive beyond Ibrahima Konate who was secured much earlier in the summer. Some have suggested that Fenway needed to “sell before buying”. This is somewhat true but not because the money isn’t there to invest
but because the squad is over quota in players.
Liverpool has 10 homegrown players left after Harry Wilson’s departure to Fulham and 2 will have to be released either in sales or loans, or else they will have to be left off the roster. (Last year Nat Phillips wasn’t on the Champions League roster for the group stage because there wasn’t room). The 10 are: Kelleher, Gomez, Phillips, Davies, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Woodburn, Ojo. Players under 21 do not count against roster limits in the Premier League.
On the non-homegrown side, the Reds will be down to the maximum of 17 after the expected departure of Shaqiri to Italy. (Shaq’s likely destination appears to be Lazio but Napoli is also described as “keen”). But for further arrivals from abroad, some listed below would have to depart. The 17 are: Alisson, Adrian, Karius, Van Dijk, Konate, Matip, Robertson, Tsimikas, Fabinho Keita, Thiago, Mane, Jota, Minamino, Salah, Firmino, Origi.
The main incoming for Liverpool would be a central midfielder. Saul at Atletico seems to be the main domino, when he gets sorted then the other midfielders on the move will quickly slot into place. It appears Liverpool would make a strong offer for him but Barcelona is frantically trying to make him a deal to stay in Spain.
Karius is almost certainly out the door again creating the needed roster spot. I’d earlier speculated that Kelleher might be loaned out but the sale of Grabara, and all the uncertainty of keeping Karius around makes that unlikely.
The squad is coming into shape, the League season is just 3 weeks away, don’t let the football rumors
ruin your day.