Al-Ettifaq’s club president appeared to aim a veiled dig at Jordan Henderson after his transfer from the Saudi Pro League side to Ajax was confirmed on Thursday.
The England midfielder officially joined Ajax on Thursday evening, signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with the struggling Dutch giants.
The transfer comes just six months after the former Liverpool skipper controversially moved to Saudi Arabia, where he reunited with former teammate turned manager Steven Gerrard.
However, in order to secure his switch to the Netherlands, the 33-year-old agreed to terminate his contract with Al-Ettifaq.
Speaking after his exit, Henderson said: “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. A lot of hard work is going in which I know will pay off in the future.”
Al-Ettifaq had initially been loathed to let Henderson go after their poor form prior to the winter break, especially given that he was their marquee signing.
The midfielder was a key man in Gerrard’s engine room and quit the club on the same day the Al-Ettifaq boss was handed a new two-year contract.
In a statement, club president Samer Al Misehal initially thanked the player though later appeared to aim a parting shot over his ‘commitment’ to the club.
“Firstly, the club would like to thank Jordan for his efforts and wish him the best for his future endeavours,” he said.
“We are always respectful of our players. The club and Jordan believe this quick decision, without any delay or further distraction, has been made for both the overall good of the club and for Jordan.
“There is a lot still to play for. But this is a very tough league and the team performances required and expected by the club in the second half of the season under coach Steven Gerrard demand complete unity and commitment from all players and staff, and we look forward to regaining new momentum from this point forward through our winter training camp.”
Henderson could be first of many Saudi exits
Henderson is the first major name to quit the Saudi Pro League side but he’s highly unlikely to be the last, given rumours of Karim Benzema’s future at Al-Ittihad.
“This is all just part of football, all across the world and life, across all careers. Sometimes despite best efforts people don’t always adjust or settle and that can impact performances and lead to frustrations for all,” Saudi Pro League vice-chairman Saad Allazeez said.
“Jordan is a good guy and it’s a shame that things didn’t work out for him, but he’d be the first to admit that full support was given to him and respect shown. So everyone tried and no one is to blame.
“Looking ahead we are very positive and expect more good players to come in. But, of course, some will move on too. That comes with being a top league, especially when you consider squads are capped.
“So, we’d expect the flow of talent to go both ways. But overall, we are very happy at the progress and growth in just half a season. Firm foundations have been laid for future strength.”