JORDAN HENDERSON'S imminent signing is a genuine statement of intent by Liverpool ahead of what promises to be a busy summer at Anfield.
It is no secret that Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli have plenty of work to do to reshape the Reds’ squad this summer, and this deal would seem to fit neatly with club owners Fenway Sports Group and their long-term strategy.
Henderson is young and English – but most importantly, talented.
Cynics will suggest that Liverpool are paying an "English premium" but they showed with Andy Carroll in January that they are willing to pay whatever it takes to land their top targets, and the speed and decisiveness with which they have secured Henderson is a hugely positive sign.
And by valuing David Ngog, the makeweight in the deal, at £8m, Dalglish and his team have shown that they too can drive a hard bargain.
The Frenchman should depart Anfield with little but fond wishes. He may not have been the man to take Liverpool to 'the next level' as such, but he worked hard, scored some important goals, and deserves his chance of first team football in the North East. Comparing his development at Anfield to that of Ryan Babel, who left for around half the £11m Liverpool paid Ajax for him, it is clear to see which was the smarter piece of business.
As for Henderson himself, well, at 20 he clearly has plenty of developing to do, but he also has all the raw materials to be a success at Anfield. Indeed, he displayed as much with an impressive display against Roy Hodgson's Reds last September in a 2-2 draw at Anfield.
He is composed, athletic, energetic and has the ability to cross and pass the ball with consistent quality. Carroll, in particular, will thrive on his early balls into the box, as he did so successfully at Newcastle with Joey Barton.
Steve Bruce was clearly desperate to keep Henderson at the Stadium of Light. Manchester City and Manchester United had expressed an interest, but the youngster's determination to move to Merseyside and link up with Dalglish shows that Liverpool's pulling power remains undiminished.
These are exciting times at Anfield, and expect a few more names to follow the Wearsider over the next couple of months.