Every summer, Liverpool loan out a number of young hopefuls and squad players to various clubs, and the man behind their success is “very important” to Jurgen Klopp.
For some, it will be to gain first-team experience in a bid to force their way in at Liverpool, while for others, it will be to put themselves in the shop window and secure the game time they would not be afforded at Anfield.
Whatever the purpose, every loan deal is overseen by a man who joined the club from Man City in 2012.
Julian Ward was initially part of the Reds’ recruitment and scouting staff, before a new role was created for him three years after his arrival, that being as loan pathways and football partnerships manager.
Now, Ward has contact with each player that heads out on loan, along with the clubs they are sent to, and frequently travels to watch them and offer advice on their progress and next steps.
His duty will be different with Rhian Brewster, if he is tasked with keeping tabs on the striker following his £23.5 million move to Sheffield United on Friday, owing to the inclusion of a buy-back clause in the deal.
Of course, the finer details of Liverpool’s agreement with the Blades, which is believed to allow the club to bring Brewster back for a set fee at any point over the next three years, would not be discussed when Klopp was asked about Ward’s role.
But the manager was full of praise for the John Moores University graduate, despite beginning his assessment by joking “who is Julian Ward?”
“Now it’s obviously very, very important, a really, very important role. We work really closely together,” he explained.
“So if you have to go on loan, the best thing that can happen is that you have a contract with Liverpool, because then Jules is looking after you, let me say it like this.
“He travels a lot – or he used to travel a lot, when travelling was allowed – and they are really in constant contact.
“I’m pretty sure if you asked the players themselves, they would say the same. So that’s really, on a personal basis, really good.
“On a professional basis, we try to make sure, before we give a player on loan, as much as we can just to find the right club; that’s very, very important.
“I wish I could [know more about them]. In Germany, I know more coaches, here I don’t know that many.
“So that’s sometimes a bit tricky for me to make these decisions on the football they play and stuff like this.
“Jules is doing an incredible job, that’s true, so that’s very helpful for us and for the players as well.”
It is a job not many would consider in terms of its impact, but sending a player out on loan and simply expecting them to return the following summer stronger and with a renewed outlook is not the way things work.
Instead, Ward is clearly a crucial part of Klopp’s backroom staff at Liverpool, and it would be no surprise if the club have more success in the loan market going forward.
Perhaps, even, his involvement could help smooth the pathway for Brewster to return to Anfield if he reaches his potential at Sheffield United.