2ECF3YJ Dragao Stadium, Porto, Portugal. 13th Feb, 2021. Portuguese Championship Football, FC Porto versus Boa Vista; Marko Grujic of FC Porto chases the through ball Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

What Liverpool’s next sporting director told Marko Grujic to trigger Porto switch

Liverpool’s transition to a new sporting director will be complete by next season with Julian Ward taking over from the revered Michael Edwards, and he has plenty of fans.

Edwards confirmed his intention to leave the club by the summer earlier this month, with his current assist, Ward, to assume the role.

The transition started in December 2020 after Ward was appointed as assistant sporting director, eight years on from first joining Liverpool as part of the recruitment and scouting team.

And Ward was a key contact for Marko Grujic, who left Liverpool permanently in the summer for Porto after five loan spells, having delivered the news that consistent game time would not be on the cards at Anfield.

“When I came back to Liverpool last summer I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” Grujic explained to the Athletic.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's Marko Grujic during the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“My future wasn’t clear. I was still hoping I might get a chance. But then I had a talk with Julian Ward.

“He told me the club felt that it was probably best at this stage of my career if I was playing regularly and that it was unlikely I’d get that kind of game time at Liverpool.

“I enjoyed my time at Porto and I liked the idea of coming back here. When the two clubs had an agreement and they told me the transfer was possible then I gave it the green light. I think it was a deal that make sense for everyone.”

Responsibilities beholden of a sporting director and ones that will grow in volume as he assumes the main role from June 1, 2022, onwards.

Jurgen Klopp has faith in Ward in the all-important position, saying: “Since I’ve known him, he’s an absolute expert in all the things around player scouting, transfers, all these kinds of things.”

And Grujic was just as complimentary after having had many dealings with Ward during his time on the books.

“Julian is a great man. He’s given me a lot of good advice over the years,” Grujic added.

LINCOLN, ENGLAND - Thursday, September 24, 2020: Liverpool's Marko Grujic during the pre-match warm-up before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Lincoln City FC and Liverpool FC at Sincil Bank. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“When it was his job to take care of the guys out on loan, he was always there to provide help and support.

“I’m not surprised that he’s been given the top job. He understands football. He has the knowledge and the contacts and he has the skills to take it on.

“It’s a really important role but I think they have made a good choice with Julian. He’s the right man for the job and I’m sure he will help the club to keep pushing forward.”