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Jordan Henderson reputation destroyed and Naby Keita injured again but forgotten Liverpool man quietly becomes huge star

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Out with the old and in with the new is forever how the summer of 2023 will be remembered by those at Liverpool.

After resounding Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Super Cup, Club World Cup and Community Shield success between 2019 and 2022, last summer marked the end of Jurgen Klopp's first great Liverpool side as stalwarts like Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino all departed Anfield in favour of pastures new.

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Since the summer, it's fair to say things have significantly improved, with the Reds once more rubbing shoulders with Manchester City at the right end of the Premier League table after a disastrous 2022/23 campaign brought a disappointing fifth-place finish.

This time around, though, the instant impacts of Szoboszlai and Mac Allister has led to a 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, and qualification to the Europa League round-of-16 is a sign of real progress for Klopp's side.

Here, the ECHO takes a look.

Saudi Slump

Of all the departures from the Premier League last summer, few would have been as unpredictable as Jordan Henderson's move from Liverpool to Al Ettifaq.

The 33-year-old, who signed from Sunderland in 2011, had worn the captain's armband at Anfield since Steven Gerrard's departure in 2015 and, in lifting the Premier League and Champions League, had established himself as one of the all-time greats on Merseyside.

After a season of collective woe last time around, Henderson had seemed insistent on leading the Reds' last strike back under Jurgen Klopp as they looked to negotiate the complications of missing out on Champions League football.

In ditching an Anfield revival in favour of linking up with Gerrard in the Middle East, Henderson has quickly been forgotten about on Merseyside and supporters are only now briefly reminded of his presence when is the subject of booing - by England's LGBTQ+ campaigners - at Wembley every time the Three Lions take to the capital.

That Henderson is being booed by his own supporters is perhaps the best indication that his £12m move to Ettifaq has been nothing short of a personal and professional disaster, with Gerrard's side - boasting a host of one-time Premier League stars - sitting seventh in the Saudi Pro League after just one win in their last seven league games.

Clearly, it was all worth it, right?

Like Henderson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were among the high-profile stars of the European game to make the move to the Saudi Pro League.

Both additions were shocks in their own right, with Firmino appearing to have spent the final months of his Anfield career being courted by Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid before ultimately joining Riyad Mahrez and Allan Saint-Maximin at Al Ahli.

Life had initially started well for the Reds' former No.9 as he fired an opening-day hat trick against Al Hazem to well and truly announce his arrival in the Middle East.

Sadly for Firmino, though, his 72nd-minute strike on August 11 was his most recent in Saudi Arabia as he currently finds himself in the midst of a 12-game goal drought across all competitions.

Fabinho, meanwhile, has started 12 of Al Ittihad's 15 Saudi Pro League matches since his shock summer departure from Anfield.

However, it has been a topsy-turvy campaign for the reigning champions who sacked Nuno Espirito Santo last month after making a limp defence to their crown - currently sitting 13 points behind Al Hilal.

The same old issues

If a Liverpool and Werder Bremen fan both sat at a bar completely unknown to one another, they would likely find common ground very quickly.

That, of course, being the curious case of Naby Keita, who has been one of European football's most perplexing figures since sealing a £52m move from RB Leipzig to Liverpool in the summer of 2017.

Despite leaving Anfield in possession of every top-level trophy available, including the Premier League and Champions League, the Court of Public Opinion would rule the Guinea international's time on Merseyside as severely underwhelming.

But even after leaving the Reds in the hope of kick-starting his career on the continent, his summer return to the Bundesliga has been anything but plain sailing due to a string of injuries Keita has picked up.

Five months since signing for the Seagulls and the 37-year-old has played here, there and everywhere across the Premier League, League Cup and Europa League.
For more news relating to Manchester City, visit our sister site City Latest Live.

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