LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 16, 2022: Liverpool's Sporting Director Julian Ward during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Key Liverpool figure now “leading candidate” for Ajax job despite ‘year off’ claim

It was initially believed that Julian Ward would take some time off following his Liverpool exit this summer, but the Reds sporting director is now said to be a “leading candidate” for another top European job.

News of Ward’s decision to resign just months after he replaced Michael Edwards came as a surprise last November.

At the time, a host of Merseyside journalists reported that Ward would not jump straight back into another similar job, with the Athletic‘s James Pearce claiming he had “informed the club’s owners that he intends to take a break from football.”

However, De Telegraaf, a leading source for Ajax and Dutch football news, are now reporting that Ward is a strong candidate to take over as Ajax’s new technical director.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Sunday, December 11, 2022: Liverpool's Sporting Director Julian Ward during the Dubai Super Cup 2022 match between Liverpool FC and Olympique Lyonnais at Al Maktoum Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last February, the club’s previous technical director Marc Overmars left the club with immediate effect, after it was revealed he had sent a “series of inappropriate messages to several female colleagues.”

In the months that followed, former Ajax striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Gerry Hamstra were added to the club’s technical staff, but the Eredivisie champions are now searching for a new full-time staff member to oversee the club’s recruitment process.

That’s where Ward would come in, with Ajax said to be impressed with his work at Liverpool.

However, with initial reports suggesting Ward would take some time away from the game, it remains to be seen how keen he would be on such a role.

Elsewhere, the Echo‘s Paul Gorst recently reported that Ward will be unable to join another club for the next 12 months following his Liverpool exit.

That information hasn’t been corroborated by other sources, but if that were the case, Ward would be unable to take up a role with Ajax in the near future, who are said to want a new technical director in place for July 1 “at the latest.”

Ajax, a club famous for developing talents from their prestigious academy, would certainly represent an interesting move for Ward.

But if he is to take a break from football, or is contractually obliged to not join another club for a year, then Amsterdam is unlikely to be his next destination.