JORDAN Henderson was set to complete a £20million move to Liverpool today before flying out to Denmark to link up with the England Under-21 squad this evening.
The Herrington-born Sunderland midfielder has travelled to Merseyside for the completion of talks and will become Kenny Dalglish’s latest Anfield recruit, subject to the passing of a medical – something which should be little more than a formality.
But the reported transfer of Liverpool striker David N’Gog in the opposite direction is not directly linked to the Henderson deal and is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.
Sunderland will get £20m for Henderson, regardless of whether the French forward signs for the Black Cats, but if the N’Gog move does go ahead, then whatever figure is agreed will come out of the Henderson transfer fee.
The Echo understands there is still a lot of work to be done on any N’Gog move with length of contract, wages and an acceptable price to be agreed.
What does seem certain though is that Henderson’s days at the Stadium of Light are over in the wake of Sunderland agreeing to sell him.
The club confirmed: “A fee has been agreed with Liverpool for Jordan Henderson and he travels to Anfield with the club’s blessing.”
Liverpool also announced this morning that they were beginning talks.
Liverpool have been swift to push forward their interest in the last 24 hours, upping their offer from just over £18m to the £20m that boss Steve Bruce had always set as the benchmark figure the club would need to be offered before considering the sale of a player the manager referred to as: “our crown jewel”.
Dalglish was anxious to get the deal tied up ahead of an international tournament in which Henderson could yet prove to be England’s star.
Henderson has done well for the England Under-21s in recent months, garnering an increasingly impressive reputation, and if he sparkled in the European finals it could easily have pushed up his potential transfer fee higher.
Liverpool have headed off any danger of that happening with their decisive action.
But Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn and manager Steve Bruce are also believed to be happy with the fee agreed, which will be used to bankroll much of the club’s summer rebuilding campaign.
It will smooth the way for Kieran Westwood and Seb Larsson’s expected arrival as Bosman free transfers and could also furnish the Black Cats with their first new striker if the N’Gog deal goes through.
But, more significantly, the money will be used to push forward with plans to sign Wigan Athletic star Charles N’Zogbia and other top players the club hopes are in the pipeline.
Sunderland fans, though, are likely to be unimpressed with the sale of Henderson, even for such a large transfer fee, unless the club demonstrates before the end of the window that it is all part of a process of taking the club forward rather than backward.
Henderson is still at the start of his Premier League career and is likely to be at the top for the next decade – so Liverpool will see £20m as an excellent long-term investment in what of the brightest young talents in English football.
And if Sunderland are to avoid being seen as a selling club, they need to bring in players who will make the club a more formidable outfit next season, despite Henderson’s departure.