Former Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has revealed that Fenway Sports Group – the club’s owners – once regarded the signing of Jordan Henderson as a “massive mistake”.
The England international is now the Reds’ vice-captain – a role he stepped into after Daniel Agger left last year – and arrived at the club back in 2011 in a deal worth around £16m from Sunderland.
Although now a key man at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers, Henderson endured a difficult first season on Merseyside working with then boss Kenny Dalglish before the club idol was sacked on the back of missing out on a top four finish.
Part of Comolli’s then role – which he started in 2010 and occupied for 18 months – was player recruitment, and the Frenchman played a big role in the signing of Henderson, as well as Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.
Rodgers has sold the latter pair since being at the helm of the club, and even came close to offloading his now vice-skipper in a deal to land Clint Dempsey from Fulham in 2012.
Henderson – who is now in line to replace Steven Gerrard as the club’s captain when he leaves at the end of the season – is now a big figure at Liverpool, but Comolli says that he was criticised for signing him when dismissed by the club:
“When I left Liverpool, the owners told me Henderson was a massive mistake,” he is quoted by the Liverpool Echo. “Now he’s turned out to be the next Liverpool captain and he’s a regular in every game.”
“When people talk to me nowadays about Liverpool, they say what a fantastic job you did in bringing players like Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson to the club.
“The issue I have got is when a group of owners approach somebody like me and say we want to invest for the long term, we want you to sign young players, we want you to put together a squad which has a future for the next three to five years, we want you to work with the academy and we start to do all this and after a few months or a few years they say: ‘Sorry, it’s not working out’.
“You cannot say you have to focus on the future and at the same time say the young players are not ready to compete at the top level.”