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Jordan Henderson admitted the past six months have been difficult for him as he joined Ajax after Saudi club Al-Ettifaq agreed to terminate his contract.

Henderson moved to Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool on a three-year contract last summer, and his decision to go to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex relationships are illegal, caused controversy in the UK as he had previously been a high-profile supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

He subsequently apologised for any hurt caused, but was booed off the pitch at Wembley during an England friendly against Australia in October.

Al-Ettifaq, who are managed by Steven Gerrard, confirmed they had reached an amicable settlement with the 33-year-old to leave the club, and Ajax announced on Thursday the England midfielder had signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Amsterdam outfit.

He is set to be unveiled on Friday at 13:00 (GMT).

Henderson, who captained Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League success, hopes the move to Ajax proves beneficial for both himself and the club.

He told the official Ajax website: “It’s been a difficult year or so for the club, both on and off the field, but that’s the same for me in the past six months.

“So hopefully we can help each other come together and help each other go forward and try and be as successful as possible in the near future.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, crazy few days, but I’m just so excited now to be here, to start a new chapter, a new journey in my life and my career and I’m just so excited to be here and part of this club.

“Once I knew that there was an opportunity, I was overexcited and really overwhelmed that this opportunity was there for me. It was something that I wanted to try and make happen.”

Henderson added on Instagram: “I’m sad to say that I will be leaving Al-Ettifaq with immediate effect. It wasn’t an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.”

The move to Ajax was completed after Henderson, who has 81 England caps, finalised terms and underwent a medical on Thursday.

A statement from the Dutch club read: “Ajax has reached an agreement with Jordan Henderson on his transfer to Amsterdam.

“The free agent, former Sunderland and Liverpool player, signed a contract at Ajax lasting two-and-a-half years, until June 30, 2026.”

Henderson is unlikely to be able to make his Ajax debut against RKC Waalwijk as he is still awaiting international clearance.

Ajax are currently fifth in the Eredivisie, having recovered from a poor start to the new domestic campaign which saw previous head coach Maurice Steijn depart after just 11 games in charge.

The move could enhance Henderson’s hopes of securing a place in the England squad for Euro 2024 this summer.

Jordan Henderson
The move could enhance Henderson’s hopes of securing a place in the England squad (John Walton/PA)

Ajax coach John van’t Schip told the club’s website: “We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities.

“Partially due to injuries in the team, we were looking for someone who could step in immediately. Jordan Henderson is that type of player.

“His arrival means a huge enhancement for our squad. Both on and off the pitch, a football player of this calibre is important for our many young players.

“He’s an English international player and has won the Champions League and many other prizes with Liverpool. I am happy he’s here.”