Michael Edwards: Liverpool sporting director to leave club at end of season

Michael Edwards with Jurgen Klopp and Mike Gordon after the German’s contract extension in 2019

Liverpool’s vigorous attempts to convince Michael Edwards to sign a new deal have failed, with the sporting director informing the club he will be leaving at the end of his contract next summer.

The man responsible for shaping the squad and football operations, which saw the Merseysiders end a 30-year title drought while also becoming champions of Europe and the world under Jürgen Klopp’s charge, wants a new challenge after a decade with the Anfield side.

However, The Independent understands Edwards – established as a leader in his position across the European game – has no desire to design Newcastle United’s new era.

Julian Ward, who has deputised in the role for more than a year and has worked closely with Klopp and Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon, will graduate to Liverpool’s sporting director at the end of the season.

The owners had long feared Edwards’ exit after repeated attempts to agree a contract extension proved futile. It is why Ward was identified as his successor early, allowing for a thorough and well-managed transition period.

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Edwards’ influence on Liverpool has been immense since joining in November 2011, initially to do football interpretation and video analysis.

He recruited Ian Graham with the view of establishing Liverpool at the forefront of analytics in the sport, which has materialised.

Revered as an excellent transfer negotiator, Edwards built a champion team, while also transforming player sales into a hugely profitable avenue for the club.

His fingerprints are all over the new training complex in Kirkby, the one-vision strategy, and the enhancement of operations all through the football side.

Michael Edwards shakes hands with Jurgen Klopp to celebrate his contract extension in 2019

It is impossible to overstate how instructive he was to helping restore Liverpool as a domestic and continental powerhouse.

The departure of Edwards marks the first seismic change of a crucial upcoming period, in which an ageing core will need to be refreshed, while Klopp’s contract expires in 2024.

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A gradual, shrewd rebuilding job is required. Liverpool are confident Ward, who headed up the loan pathways and football partnerships department, is equal to it.

He previously served as the European Scouting Manager and was Manchester City’s South American recruitment strategist after a stint as head of analysis and technical scouting for Portugal.

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