Henderson set to move to Dutch club Ajax in blow to Saudi league Loop Jamaica

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England’s Jordan Henderson applauds at the end of the Euro 2024 group C qualifying football match against Italy at Wembley stadium in London, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File).

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — England football international Jordan Henderson arrived in Amsterdam on Thursday amid reports he was about to sign a deal with struggling Dutch powerhouse Ajax to end his troubled six-month spell in the Saudi Pro League.

Henderson was pictured in the Dutch city by British broadcaster Sky Sports, which said he met with Ajax representatives and would be signing a 2 1/2-year contract after taking a medical examination.

The 33-year-old Henderson’s transfer is seen as a move to consolidate his place in the England squad ahead of the European Championship in Germany starting in June. But it also is a blow for the Saudi league, whose cashed-up clubs have signed a slew of big-name stars, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo.

Henderson signed in July for Al-Ettifaq where he joined another former Liverpool captain in Steven Gerrard, who manages the team. The move sparked a fierce backlash from the LGBTQ+ community.

Amnesty International cautions that in Saudi Arabia, members of the LGBT community, including foreigners “risk imprisonment and corporal punishment for same-sex relations, expressing their identity or support for LGBT rights.”

Henderson had previously signalled his support for inclusivity by wearing rainbow-coloured laces as part of an initiative by LGBTQ+ campaign group Stonewall.

Henderson, who has made 81 appearances for England, struggled to lift his team in Saudi Arabia. Al-Ettifaq currently are in eighth place in the Saudi Pro League.

Ajax, a four-time European champion, have struggled this season just to remain competitive with Dutch teams. Ajax are heading back toward the upper reaches of the Dutch top flight after a disastrous start to the season that saw the club part company with coach Maurice Steijn after just winning just one of its first seven games of the season.

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