Can it really be true that this may be one of the last times we have reason to use our friend addick-tedKevin‘s Jordan graphic? It could be no more than idle speculation, but there is a worryingly credible look to it …
For months we have had to endure hot air about Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini or Arsène Wenger planning a seat on their substitute benches for our gifted young midfielder, with our own feelings soothed by protestations on his behalf that he is happy at Sunderland. And now the Daily Mail confidently reports that Jordan Henderson’s most likely destination is Anfield.
Firstly, I have nothing much against Liverpool. This is a club that, within living memory, has provided great entertainment to neutrals as well as Scousers. But recent years of gross under-achievement, one pulsating Champions’ League final comeback apart, have made it necessary for that memory to be capable of stretching back quite a while.
Does Jordan Henderson seriously believe it would be such a grand move for him? The Mail says Liverpool are “closing in on a deal” to sign him “after lining up a £13million bid”. Amid all that sportswriting waffle and hype may be a germ of truth.
Someone seems to be briefing the Mail on this one. “The 20-year-old has told close friends he would prefer a move to Anfield after Liverpool made a formal approach” … a deal “is being held up by what one source described as a ‘ridiculous’ asking price believed to be in the region of £20m” … “but Henderson could be a Liverpool player by the time he returns from England duty at the European Under-21 Championships in Denmark later this month”. We no longer don’t want to lose him; we just don’t want to lose him cheaply.
It may be true that once a player’s head is turned, he is as good as out of the door. There may be nothing we can do to stop Jordan’s departure sooner rather than later. He may even think Liverpool are on the brink breaking back into the top three – or four, or five – and are not simply intoxicated by their own impressive history.
But if all that is so, then £20m – as I have said here before – is no bad place to pitch our asking price, much as most of us would prefer to hang on to such a rare example of homegrown, club-nurtured talent. In fact, I’d go further and take a good look at the Liverpool squad and decide whose move in the other direction should be a non-negotiable part of any sale, at which point the £13m knockdown price could even begin, depending on which player was involved, to look less insulting. Supporters of either club can offer their own suggestions.
Sunderland should be, as things stand, a buying club, not a selling one. There does need to be clear-out but the greater priority from a footballing perspective must be strengthening a loan-heavy squad that has shown itself vulnerable to key absences.
We need only look back to January for proof of that. A pot of gold in the bank for Mr Bent did us a fat lot of good. And another pot of gold for Jordan Henderson would be as meaningless if we did not, unlike back then, have someone very good lined up to arrive at the SoL.