Henderson Leaves the SPL: Listing Players Who Made Wrong Career Moves Including Torres and Others

Henderson Leaves the SPL: Listing Players Who Made Wrong Career Moves Including Torres and Others

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Jordan Henderson logo
AFC Ajax logoMEngland logo
Fernando Torres logo
F. Torres
Oygarden FK logoFSpain logo
Romelu Lukaku logo
R. Lukaku
AS Roma logoFBelgium logo
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior logo
Al-Hilal Saudi FC logoFBrazil logo
Philippe Coutinho logo
P. Coutinho
Al Duhail logoMBrazil logo
  • Jordan Henderson has quit the Saudi Pro League only six months after joining Al-Ettifaq
  • He is set to join Dutch side, Ajax, looking to make it into England's squad for Euro 2024
  • The former Liverpool captain has joined a list of players who made wrong career moves

The news that Jordan Henderson was ready to quit the money-laden Saudi Pro League and secure a move elsewhere has been met with mixed reactions.

The Liverpool legend had just months ago defied the widespread backlash to move to the Middle East, stating he was ready for a new challenge that 'would excite him'.

Jordan Henderson, Fernando Torres, Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, Romelu Lukaku
Jordan Henderson has left Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League for Ajax. Photo by MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

That he was ready to leave the hefty pay-check offered by Al-Ettifaq FC had conservatives questioning what had gone fundamentally wrong in Saudi Arabia that the top stars they had recently acquired wanted out. For others, it was a question of another career ruined with one wrong move.

No player ever gets into football or moves to another club, hoping he will fail. But with life, nothing is ever predictable. Henderson was still a certain starter for Jurgen Klopp, and as he moves to Ajax, the England international will be asking himself, 'what if I had remained at Anfield?'

Players who made wrong career moves

Sports Brief looks at the top examples of players whose careers stalled or dwindled after changing clubs.

1. Fernando Torres - Liverpool to Chelsea

Fernando Torres was an unplayable striker during his days in Merseyside. He finished third in the 2008 Ballon d'Or vote behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Despite his goal-scoring prowess at Anfield, he failed to guide the side to silverware and was eager for that to change. So when Chelsea came knocking in 2011 with a British record fee, El Nino moved to West London.

At SW6, his output in front of goal regressed abnormally as he missed several clearcut chances. His career at Chelsea never took off and he was eventually loaned out to AC Milan.

The silver lining for Torres was that he got the silverware he so desperately craved for at Chelsea, including the 2012 Champions League.

2. Alexis Sanchez - Arsenal to Manchester United

The Chilean admitted that he instantly regretted moving to Old Trafford in 2018.

"Sometimes there are things you don't realise until you get there, and I remember the first training session I had, I realised many things. I got home and told my representative: 'Can't the contract be terminated to return to Arsenal?' he said on Instagram.

Once regarded as one of the best players in the Premier League, Sanchez only scored five goals in 45 appearances for the Red Devils before being loaned out to Inter Milan. He has since been restricted to mostly substitute appearances for the Italian club and a short stint in Marseille.

3. Phlippe Coutinho - Liverpool to Barcelona

Jurgen Klopp is on record as begging Philippe Coutinho to stay at Anfield when Barcelona came for him in the winter transfer window of 2018.

"Stay here and they will build a statue in your honour. Go somewhere else, to Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid, and you will be just another player. Here you can be something more," the German said as quoted by the Mirror.

But, when Barcelona holds out a hand for you, it is hard to say no. The Brazilian was intrigued with the prospect of replacing his compatriot Neymar, who had just left for Paris Saint-Germain.

Coutinho failed to settle at Camp Nou and was loaned out to Bayern Munich and Aston Villa before a permanent sale to the latter. He did win the Champions League with Bayern Munich, but the players he left at Liverpool, the likes of Mohamed Salah, are still revered in Merseyside.

4. Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona

One might argue that having Neymar on this list is a tad unfair, given that injuries have done a lot of injustice to his career. But the Brazilian superstar has one of the greatest 'what ifs' in football history.

Understandably, he felt overwhelmed by Messi's shadow and felt the need to chart his own path. But he ended up joining an unsettled club that, frankly speaking, had no idea how to turn the owners' deep pockets into success on the continental stage.

What if Neymar remained at Barcelona and maintained ranks in the devastating MSN trio? At one point, he wanted to return to Camp Nou so much that he was ready to pay a part of his transfer fee, according to a report by GMS.

Sports Brief has previously highlighted Neymar's sad story of endless potential after he moved to Saudi Arabia last year.

5. Romelu Lukaku - Inter Milan to Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku has never really been accepted as a world-class striker despite positing impressive numbers over the years.

After working his way to the top in an Antonio Conte title-winning side, the Belgian decided to return 'home' to Stamford Bridge.

However, in his defence, the move was also necessary for Inter Milan, who desperately needed the £97.5 million fee Chelsea paid.

Despite a decent start, it quickly became apparent that he wasn't built for Thomas Tuchel's side. The German manager dropped him and Lukaku committed another mistake - conducting an unwarranted interview, which all but ended his chance at redemption with the Blues folklore.

He then burned the bridges of a San Siro return and was forced to move to AS Roma.

Moral lesson: football transfers, like all business deals, are never straightforward. The possibility of getting the short end of the stick is just as high as succeeding.

Why Henderson hasn't been paid in Saudi Arabia

Sports Brief also reported that Henderson runs the risk of walking away from Saudi Arabia without payment for the short time he has been there.

The 33-year-old is said to have deferred his £350,000 per week deal to avoid UK tax, and should he quit now, he will have to forego this payment.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)