Jordan Henderson has chance to join Liverpool legends - and is a worthy PFA Player of the Year winner


Jordan Henderson will join the cast of Liverpool legends as the captain who lifted the Champions League, Club World Championship and, barring a miracle, Premier League trophies.

It's still possible he could win the Treble – title, FA Cup and European Cup – this season.

And the tearful hug he shared with his dad after beating Tottenham in Madrid last June was one of the most beautiful father-and-son moments in sport.

Henderson would be a worthy winner of the PFA's Player of the Year crown because he is a shining example of a player who has made the most of his gifts.

When he was signed by Kenny Dalglish for £16 million nine years ago, there were a few eyebrows raised at Anfield and beyond – but he will now join Graeme Souness, Dalglish and Steven Gerrard in the cast of Liverpool icons.
Jordan Henderson is on his way to becoming a Liverpool legend (Image: PETER POWELL/EPA-EFE/REX)

Technically, he is also a lot better than some of his critics from the past would have you believe. There is more, much more, to Henderson's game than running power and athleticism.

If his peers voted for Henderson as the Player of the Year, I would have no complaints.

But... and there is a 'but' coming with all those plaudits.

If you took Jordan Henderson out of this magnificent Liverpool side, would they still function as efficiently without him?

Would they miss him as much as Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino or Trent Alexander-Arnold? Arguably, no.
Many had doubts about Henderson when he joined Liverpool in 2011 (Image: Julian Finney)

Would Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana and James Milner provide as much quality in his absence? Arguably, yes.

I would argue that Alexander-Arnold has become the world's best right-back, and this season he has contributed the most assists, plus immaculate set-piece delivery and helping Liverpool to sustain the best defensive record in the country.

If I were still playing now, and I had put a cross on a ballot paper this weekend, Alexander-Arnold would get my vote.

A full-back has never won the PFA gong before, but he has taken the role up to a new level, maintaining a supply line for the forwards down that right flank but keeping the back gate shut at the same time.

He is also blessed with a terrific football brain. That quickly-taken corner against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final miracle last season was a case in point.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been particularly impressive for Liverpool this season (Image: REUTERS)

What a fantastic statement for Liverpool it would be if one of their own sons – still only 21 years old – could win such a prestigious accolade.

The stats alone make a powerful case for TAA: two goals, 10 assists, 13 other major chances created, 151 recoveries of the ball, most clean sheets in the Premier League, best defensive record in all four divisions.

What is there not to like?

Like 1999, when Manchester United won the Treble but Tottenham's David Ginola won Footballer of the Year because the vote was split among several deserving United players, there is a chance that the PFA gong won't go to a Liverpool player this year.

Van Dijk, Mane, Firmino, Henderson and Alexander-Arnold must all be in with a shout, along with Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne and Jamie Vardy, the Premier League's top scorer.
Alexander-Arnold is one of several Liverpool players in with a shout of winning PFA Player of the Year (Image: Getty Images)

As an experiment, I conducted a quick straw poll on Twitter earlier and you can see the results for yourselves.

It remains to be seen if the PFA members' votes will reflect public opinion.

But as much as I admire Henderson, and everything he has achieved, my cross on the ballot paper right now would go to Alexander-Arnold.

In years to come, if he maintains the standards he has set in 2019-20, we could be talking about him in the same breath as Cafu, Carlos Alberto, Lilian Thuram and Philipp Lahm as one of the great right-backs.

In a Twitter poll experiment, which attracted 26,000 votes in three hours, the Player of the Year final voting went as follows:

Jordan Henderson 43 per cent

Kevin de Bruyne 30 per cent

Trent Alexander-Arnold 19 per cent

Roberto Firmino 8 per cent