Tuesday 22 January 2019

Henderson’s pledge to give all at Anfield marks him out as smart signingfor Dalglish

AFTER landing Jordan Henderson, Kenny Dalglish could bring Liverpool's summer spending to more than £35million by the end of the week by bringing in Charlie Adam and Scott Dann.

King Kenny is expected to launch a £9m bid for Blackpool’s Adam in the next 48 hours with formal talks likely to begin on Thursday.

Dalglish will have to battle it out with Arsene Wenger to capture the signature of Birmingham centre-half Dann as he looks to strengthen the rearguard at Anfield.

A boyhood Liverpool fan, Dann is being valued at £10m.

The Liverpool boss has already splashed out £16m to bring in Henderson, who is looking forward to learning from the likes of Steven Gerrard.

Even for those on the outside of Anfield looking in, Dalglish's summer buying policy follows a shrewd theme: creating competition for places through the recruitment of ambitious talents possessed of the right character. Rivalry without enmity: the Liverpool way.

It is why club captain Gerrard warmly welcomes newcomers like Henderson, a potential threat to his position. It is why Henderson himself was so effusive yesterday in his gratitude towards Gerrard, who had ventured that the 20-year-old reminded him of his younger self. Praise indeed.

“It's a massive compliment given what Steven Gerrard has achieved in the game over a long period of time,'' said Henderson of the icon of Istanbul, pausing for breath and a few reflections after England U21 training. “He's one of the best players in the world and hopefully I can learn a lot from him.''

Henderson hailed Gerrard “along with David Beckham as one of my favourite players just for the passion”.

Liverpool's central midfield threatens to become Merseyside's first congestion zone. Henderson, and probably Adam, join incumbents like Gerrard, an England star, and Lucas, Liverpool's player of the year and good enough to be established with Brazil. Throw in the busy promise of Jay Spearing and goals of Raul Meireles and there is no guarantee Henderson will walk into the side.


Henderson's response will be music to Dalglish's ears. He neither intends to cause trouble or stagnate on the bench. He desires selection on merit.

“There'll be competition at any big club but I've got to make sure I work extremely hard and do everything I can to make sure I'm starting,'' Henderson said. “If I train well and work hard I'll get my chance – and I'll take it as well.”

His role will be central. “I spoke to the manager and he said I can play in a few positions,'' Henderson responded. “I'm not really bothered; all I care about is making sure that I'm in the starting XI and playing regular football. If I could choose I'd probably be centre midfield.” The feeling within Anfield is that he has been bought to perform in the centre.

Henderson now has to prove that he can take his chance, that he is a midfielder of genuine substance. He's affable, almost choirboy-like, but he may need to demonstrate a steelier side to survive the killing fields of the Premier League uplands.

Gerrard, at 20, made his England debut against Ukraine in 2000 and his strength of personality and ability were immediately apparent. Henderson is far from touching Gerrard's class, either creatively or combatively. He has work to do.

Henderson did not even bristle when mention was made of his anonymous international debut against France in November.

Henderson was eclipsed and his subsequent Sunderland form slumped badly.

“Well a lot of people said I did, but the manager (Steve Bruce) was happy with what I was doing,'' he said.

The critical slingshots flying Henderson's way were aimed partly at his niceness and also his inexperience. Still, at the early stages of his career, he is clearly determined to rise to the myriad challenges.

Henderson's motivation for joining was simple. “It's a massive club, a great manager and great players,'' he added, also keen to emphasise his appreciation of old friends.

“The fans at Sunderland were brilliant. It was hard to leave,'' he added.

“The £20m fee was no burden. It shows Liverpool have faith in me and I'll keep learning and working hard to repay them. I'll do everything I can.”

Sounds like a Dalglish player.

© The Daily Telegraph

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