Liverpool confirm sporting director Michael Edwards WILL leave the club at the end of the season

Michael Edwards, Liverpool’s influential sporting director, will leave his post at the end of the season after the club conceded he will not sign a new contract.

Edwards, who worked at Portsmouth and Tottenham before moving to Anfield in November 2011, will be succeeded by his assistant Julian Ward and Liverpool have taken steps to ensure this will be a smooth transition.

Ward is highly-regarded within Anfield, particularly by manager Jurgen Klopp, and had been lined up to one day follow Edwards since he was promoted from his position as loan and pathways manager last December.

Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards (left, pictured with Jurgen Klopp and FSG’s president Mike Gordon) will leave Anfield next summer

Edwards will be succeeded by his assistant Julian Ward, who was promoted from his position as loan and pathways manager last December

Edwards will be succeeded by his assistant Julian Ward, who was promoted from his position as loan and pathways manager last December

Edwards, the renowned transfer guru, is one of the finest negotiators in the football world

Edwards, the renowned transfer guru, is one of the finest negotiators in the football world

Born in Liverpool, Ward moved to the club from Manchester City in 2012 and was initially in charge of scouting in Spain and Portugal. He went on to play a key role in deciding which young players would be suited to which clubs when the time was right to let them go and gain experience.

There is no question, though, that the loss of Edwards is significant. He is regarded as one of the best negotiators in the business – the best evidence of his work is the £146million deal he brokered with Barcelona for the sale of Philippe Coutinho in January 2018 – and his departure will be keenly felt.

As late as last week, Liverpool were hopeful of persuading Edwards to sign a new contract and the effort to keep him was concerted and repeated. 

RB Leipzig had registered their interest in taking him but it was made clear that the idea of him extending his stay at Anfield was not out of the question.

Deep down, however, Edwards has felt the time has come for a change and he wanted to address the situation now in order to prevent continued speculation. He has been linked in recent days, for instance to Newcastle, but there is absolutely no chance of him moving to St James’ Park.

In an open letter to supporters, Edwards said: ‘To be part of this club during this period has been a privilege due to the people I have been fortunate enough to work with and the success we have enjoyed. 

Edwards’ big Liverpool moves

INCOMINGS:

Mohamed Salah – £39m

Virgil van Dijk – £75m

Alisson Becker – £65m

Sadio Mane – £30m

Andy Robertson – £8m

Georginio Wijnaldum – £25m

OUTGOINGS:

Philippe Coutinho – £142m

Rhian Brewster – £23.5m

Danny Ings – £20m

Dominic Solanke – £19m

Mamadou Sakho – £18m

Danny Ward – £12.5m

‘I had always planned to cap my time at the club to a max of 10 years. I’ve loved working here, but I am a big believer in change. I think it’s good for the individual and, in a work setting, good for the employer, too.

‘Over my time here we have changed so many things (hopefully for the better) but someone new brings a different perspective, new ideas and can hopefully build (or change) on the things that have been put in place beforehand.

‘Julian has been building up the skill set for this role for many years. Last year, he took on the role of assistant sporting director and over the past 12 months he has been introduced to other facets of the role that are vital to its success. I believe he is ideal for the role.

‘Over the coming season I will continue to support him as we complete the leadership transition.’ 

Klopp added: ‘I wish Michael and his wonderful family all the best, for whatever they choose to do next.

Virgil van Dijk (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) are two of Edwards' most successful signings

Virgil van Dijk (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) are two of Edwards’ most successful signings

‘I know he isn’t leaving immediately or in haste, which is cool, so we still have some time to work together. If we are as fortunate and blessed as we have been so far, maybe we can create more special memories for our club in this remaining time.

‘He has been a constant presence during my period at LFC and his contribution to our success is clear for everyone to see.

‘I have complete trust in Mike Gordon and the wider ownership group in their vision for what comes next. Julian and I have worked closely since he became loans and pathway manager, plus even more so in his wider role during the past 12 months.

‘We have so many brilliant people here, all of whom contribute to what we have achieved and I have nothing but confidence we will continue to develop, progress and improve as an organisation.’ 

There are no restrictions on Edwards joining one of Liverpool’s rivals, as he is leaving at the end of a contract expiring, but although he will have plenty of offers at home and abroad, the 41-year-old is in no hurry to make a decision.

He will continue to be involved in Liverpool’s recruitment process and negotiating contract renewals, the most pressing of which is Mohamed Salah, who has 19 months remaining on his current terms.

Liverpool recognise they will need to make the Egyptian the highest paid player in their history. 

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