Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has congratulated his club for completing a deal to sign long-term target Naby Keita from RB Leipzig.
The 22-year-old Guinea midfielder will arrive in July 2018 after Liverpool paid his reported £48 million ($62.2 million, 51.6 million euros) release clause, as well as an additional premium.
“I have seen Naby play quite a few times and he looks a top, top player,” Henderson told reporters at the England training base in Burton-on-Trent, central England on Tuesday.
“There have been a lot of transfer rumours over the summer and thankfully we ended up doing the business.
“OK, he comes next year, but I am sure the club are delighted to get him because he will be a real addition to the squad and will hopefully help us over the next few years.”
Henderson reported for England duty fresh from Liverpool’s impressive 4-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday, which left Jurgen Klopp’s men in second place in the Premier League table.
Arsenal and their manager Arsene Wenger came in for heavy criticism after the game, but Henderson believes any team will find it tough against Liverpool when they are firing on all cylinders.
“Arsenal are still a very good team with very good players,” he said.
“I know they’ll get a lot of criticism, especially after our game, but at the same time we were very good.
“When we play like that, with that intensity, it’s hard for any team to come and perform really. Anyone coming to Anfield that day would have struggled.”
– ‘Number one’ –
Henderson toed a diplomatic line when asked who would prevail if Liverpool came up against England, saying “it’s very hard to compare” the teams.
Like Liverpool, England are striving to re-establish themselves as a force. They top their World Cup qualifying group ahead of their forthcoming games against Malta and Slovakia.
Manager Gareth Southgate is shaping a new team around young stars like Dele Alli and Harry Kane and although Henderson’s three major tournaments to date have all ended in disappointment, he says ambitions remain sky-high.
“We have spoken together as a squad and the target is to be the number one team in the world,” said the 27-year-old, a squad member at Euro 2012, the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
“However long it takes, we don’t know. It is down to us as a team how far we want to go and how far we want to push ourselves. Hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later.”
Henderson admitted he was “a little bit surprised” by Wayne Rooney’s decision to retire from international football, after the striker’s successful return to Everton prompted Southgate to offer him a recall.
Henderson is one several players to have worn the captain’s armband since Rooney, England’s former skipper, lost his place in the squad, and he would relish the opportunity to take on the role full-time.
Asked if he coveted the captaincy, he replied: “Of course.
“If you ask a lot of the lads in the dressing room, they’ll feel as though they’re ready to lead this team.
“And of course I’m no different, but whoever (it is), it’s up to the manager at the end of the day, and whoever gets it, the lads I’m sure will be right behind that person.”
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