The impact of Julian Ward’s decision to leave his role at Liverpool remains to be seen, but Jurgen Klopp was among those eager for him to stay.
Thursday brought the shock news that Ward had tendered his resignation to owners Fenway Sports Group, and will be departing the club in May.
This was followed by reports that influential director of research Ian Graham, a key player in Liverpool’s data-led recruitment model, had also announced his intention to leave.
Just months after Michael Edwards exited his role as sporting director, and amid FSG’s attempts to sell the club, it leaves the Reds in disarray.
A search is now underway for Ward’s successor, with journalists reporting that those within Liverpool were left “surprised and disappointed” by the development.
According to GOAL‘s Neil Jones, Klopp was “among those who tried to convince Ward to stay,” such was his belief in the current setup.
“It will be interesting now to see how Liverpool move forward,” Jones adds, “and specifically whether the manager will assume even greater responsibility in terms of the club’s recruitment and retention strategy.”
But his desire to keep Ward in place throws into question how the club will operate moving forward, especially when it comes to the next two transfer windows at the very least.
It had been envisaged that the Reds would further tap into that market using Ward’s contacts, with Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez touted as a possible target.
Whether that will remain the case is unclear, but despite assertions of Klopp’s influence growing when it comes to signings, the manager is undoubtedly more comfortable working alongside a sporting director.
That has always been the case, with Klopp explaining as much upon the appointment of Edwards as Liverpool’s first-ever sporting director in 2016.
“It’s no secret I like the concept of a sporting director,” he told the club’s official website.
“And having worked under this model previously I have found it to be nothing but positive and forward-thinking.”
Until a replacement for Ward is found, it is likely that chief executive Billy Hogan will lead negotiations for signings and sales, working with Klopp, head of recruitment Dave Fallows and chief scout Barry Hunter.