Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards is to leave the club at the end of the season.
Edwards, who has been a key figure in the Reds’ successful recruitment programme in recent seasons and become something of a transfer guru, is ending his 10-year association as he wants a fresh challenge.
However, that does not, the PA news agency understands, involve a move to Newcastle with their new Saudi owners looking for experienced backroom staff.
Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group made repeated unsuccessful attempts to persuade Edwards to extend his contract and therefore Julian Ward, promoted to assistant sporting director over a year ago, will now take over the role in the summer ensuring a smooth transition.
“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,” Edwards wrote in an open letter.
“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.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been the man to benefit most from Edwards’ expertise as he has seen the likes of Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Alisson Becker become the spine of a team which has won Champions League and Premier League titles.
“I know he isn’t leaving immediately or in haste, which is cool, so we still have some time to work together,” Klopp told LiverpoolFC.com.
“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.”
Since arriving from Tottenham as head of analytics in 2011, Edwards has progressed to head his own department overseeing football development which he has been keen to ensure receives equal credit for their achievements in recruitment and transfers.
Gordon, a Liverpool director and FSG’s go-to man on club issues, praised the work of Edwards.
“Michael’s contribution and achievements will stand the test of time given the role he has played in helping to rebuild and shape the club into what we see today,” he said.