Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner has confirmed that Danny Ward will return to Liverpool this summer, after a successful loan spell.
Ward spent the 2016/17 campaign under Wagner in the Championship, helping seal promotion to the Premier League with a series of heroic displays in the play-offs.
The Wales international made a crucial penalty save to seal a shootout victory over Reading in May’s Wembley final, capping an impressive loan with the West Yorkshire club.
He clearly caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp during his triumphant spell at the John Smith’s Stadium, as reports earlier in June suggested the Reds had turned down Huddersfield’s permanent offer.
Despite this, Ward was still expected to leave on loan during the summer window, given Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius are both ahead of him in the pecking order on Merseyside.
However, after signing a new two-year contract with Huddersfield on Friday, Wagner—a close friend of Klopp’s—revealed that Ward would not be returning to the top-flight hopefuls.
“I’ve spoken with Jurgen and unfortunately he’s made the decision that Danny Ward has to go back to Liverpool,” he told reporters.
“This is a player we will not be able to bring to our club like we’ve done with Aaron [Mooy].”
If Ward is indeed staying with Liverpool beyond the summer transfer window, it opens the debate as to how big a role he will play under Klopp next season.
Speaking to This is Anfield in June, journalist and Huddersfield supporter Doug Thomson said he believes the former Aberdeen loanee is ready to test himself in the Premier League.
“Danny is a talent. Like most keepers he’s not flawless, but there are a lot of positive aspects to his play. He improved as the season went on,” he explained.
“I think he could cut it in the top flight especially if given a run of games to adapt. I’d like to see him get the opportunity.”
Mignolet’s improvement in the role of first-choice goalkeeper last season suggests the Belgian will begin the upcoming campaign as Klopp’s No. 1, but Karius could make a renewed challenge.
Karius was sign as Klopp’s new regular stopper last summer, but was dropped following a series of shaky performances in 2016.
Pre-season should give the 24-year-old another opportunity to impress, and Ward may find himself battling with his contemporary for the privilege of then competing with Mignolet.
Liverpool are set to fight on four fronts in 2017/18, but it still remains that Ward could benefit more from another loan.