Reds agree deal for Henderson

The Reds have been locked in talks with the Black Cats for several

days after making their initial approach last week. The two clubs

have been haggling over the valuation of the 20-year-old, who will

undergo a medical with the Merseyside giants on Wednesday. It is

understood that the deal that has been agreed is worth

£20million and it will include Ngog moving in the opposite

direction, subject to him agreeing terms on Wearside. The French

striker will hold talks with the North-East club, while Henderson

brokers his move to Anfield. Henderson is due to link up with

England Under-21 squad ahead of the European Championships which

begins this weekend, and both clubs are eager for the move to be

completed before then. Liverpool, who signed strikers Andy Carroll

and Luis Suarez in a massive January spending spree, have wasted

little time in trying to implement their summer rebuilding mission.

The Black Cats had insisted throughout reports of the Merseysiders’

interest in their highest-profile academy graduate that he was

simply not for sale. However, the reality which has long been

acknowledged by manager Steve Bruce is that every player has his

price and for Henderson, that had been set at around the

£20million mark. Bruce had no desire to sell a player who

emerged from the ranks last season to hold down a regular place in

his hometown club’s first-choice XI. However, as was the case when

Aston Villa came calling in January with a deal potentially rising

to £24million for Darren Bent, Sunderland were made an offer

which represents a significant return on their investment. If the

figures add up favourably, what is not in dispute is that

Henderson’s departure will leave another major hole in Bruce’s

squad. His form suffered in the immediate aftermath of his senior

England debut against France in November last year, but the

20-year-old has been a key man for the Black Cats in the last two

seasons and will take some replacing. The manager is already

engaged in an extensive recruitment drive with Bent yet to be

replaced, while the returns of loan signings Danny Welbeck, Nedum

Onuoha, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari to their clubs has left him

with a series of sizeable gaps to plug. Bruce is targeting as many

as three strikers and in the circumstances, the inclusion of

22-year-old Ngog in the deal will prove an attractive benefit,

although he has been a largely peripheral figure during his three

seasons to date at Anfield. Allowing Henderson to leave will add

another item to the shopping list but significantly boost his

transfer kitty, with owner Ellis Short remaining supportive but

having reined in some of the rather less controlled spending of

recent years. However, it may not go down too well with fans who

still blame Bent’s shock departure for the club’s slump during the

second half of last season. Liverpool have also been linked with

Black Cats skipper Lee Cattermole in recent days, although it is

unlikely that Bruce would be prepared to part with two members of

his first-choice midfield.