Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has criticised the “morality officers” who have rounded on Jordan Henderson following his move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq.
The former Liverpool captain, as a long-time supporter of the LGBT+ community, has drawn widespread condemnation for his decision to move to a country where homosexuality is illegal.
However, Rodgers – who managed Henderson during his three years at Anfield – defended a player’s decision to choose where they ply their trade.
“It’s their profession, it’s their life so they have to do what’s best for them,” Rodgers told talkSPORT. “There are so many morality officers around the world nowadays that are judging people.
“But Jordan I know extremely well and I know the love he had and will always have for Liverpool.
“He was at the stage of his career where he probably wasn’t going to be the first name on the teamsheet any more.
“At 32 years of age, he’s won absolutely everything. He probably fancied a different challenge and out of respect, it probably didn’t feel right for him being at another Premier League club.
“So to go abroad and take on a new challenge clearly suited him.”
In his interview with The Athletic, Henderson stressed money was not a motivating factor for him and denied reports he was earning £700,000-a-week.
But the wealth of the Saudi Pro League, particularly Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli who are backed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has undoubtedly had a massive impact on this summer’s transfer window and will on windows to come.
“It’s definitely something that makes players wobble because of the money that’s talked about and what it can do for players and the legacy it can create for their families for years down the line,” Rodgers added.
“What makes (Saudi Arabia) dangerous is not only the money, they have a plan. The plan is attracting top players and looking to get top managers out there.”