JORDAN Henderson’s move from Sunderland to Liverpool was finally confirmed last night.
And the midfielder, who turns 21 next Friday, admits he is already excited about the prospect of playing alongside former England captain Steven Gerrard in the Anfield engine room.
The Sunderland-born midfielder has agreed a deal which Liverpool would only describe as “long-term”, for a fee believed to be an initial £16million, potentially rising to nearly £20m.
It’s a move which has been pushed through incredibly quickly by modern-day standards, taking only days to complete once Liverpool decided to aggressively pursue a player they had tracked for well over a year.
Though Henderson is a massive Sunderland fan and did not ask to leave the Stadium of Light, he is aware of how fortunate he is to be made central to the plans of a club bidding to win silverware and regain its traditional “top four” status.
“I’m over the moon, overjoyed, and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Henderson.
“I was flattered to know Liverpool were interested in me and, once I knew, it was a massive decision for me to make but also a massive opportunity.
“Obviously it’s hard to leave your local club – I’m a Sunderland lad, I’ve supported them all my life.
“But I’m really looking forward to the future now and obviously this is a massive opportunity for me. I’m really excited by it and the chance to really prove yourself as a player.”
As for playing alongside Gerrard, Henderson – who won a debut full international cap in November – observed: “I’ve trained with him once (for England) and he was unbelievable, to be honest.
“I’m looking forward to learning from him and there are other good players here who can help me as well.
“Steven has been a massive, massive player for Liverpool for years now and he still is.”
Henderson is Liverpool’s first signing of the summer, but there will be more to follow as the Merseyside club looks to regain a status at the top of the English game which has been under threat in recent seasons.
Money raised from the sale of Fernando Torres last season was instantly reinvested in the big-money signings of strikers Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez and rising England Under-21 star Henderson is the third high-profile new recruit since Fenway Sports Group’s takeover of the club and Kenny Dalglish returned as manager.
Henderson’s move to Anfield marks another major step in what has been a meteoric rise for the midfielder.
Not 21 until next week, the last two seasons have seen him leap from promising reserve player to a Premier League regular and full England international.
Now, in the space of less than 100 first-team games, he finds himself a key part of Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21 plans in the European U21 Championships which begin this weekend and, beyond that, a major figure in Liverpool’s quest to challenge Manchester United for titles and trophies.