Liverpool are likely to tie up a deal for Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson prior to the start of the European Under-21 Championships in Denmark, at which he is expected to play a big part for Stuart Pearce’s young Lions.
Liverpool had an initial bid of £13m turned down by Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn at the weekend, before a second bid in the region of £16m was also turned away. Quinn and manager Steve Bruce valuing the player as one of English football’s brightest young stars, and were unwillling to sell the player for less than their valuation.
However, the Merseysiders are ready to test the Black Cats with an offer valuing Henderson at £20m (£13m + add-on’s + David N’Gog), the Wearsider’s asking price, and with the player’s interest in joining Kenny Dalglish’s Anfield revolution having piqued, Bruce and Quinn are likely to deal.
Dalglish envisages a central-midfield role for Henderson – who made his senior England debut in the friendly defeat against France in November, his first and so far only cap – despite his ability to play on the right-hand side, and with Liverpool already having a wealth of options in the central area, including talisman Steven Gerrard, supporters player of the year Lucas Leiva, Portugese international Raul Meireles and homegrown youngster Jay Spearing.
Manchester United have been long-time admirers of Henderson, but their interest has since cooled and manager Sir Alex Ferguson has moved on to other midfield targets, such as Luka Modric and Charlie Adam.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will use the funds generated from the sale of Henderson to improve his attacking options, which became increasingly strained towards the end of last season, following injuries to Danny Welbeck, Frazier Campbell and Asamoah Gyan and the sale of Darren Bent to Aston Villa.
With Welbeck back at Manchester United and Campbell on the long-term injury list, Gyan is the only experienced striker currently on the club’s roster likely to be available at the start of next season. Bruce has shown interest in the West Ham United duo of Demba Ba and Carlton Cole, aswell as Wigan’s Hugo Rodallega, as he looks to overhaul his squads attacking options, and the fee for Henderson, in addition to the money left from the Bent transfer, will allow him to pursue those targets.