It was initially reported on Monday that Michael Edwards, trusted sporting director of Liverpool since 2011, is contemplating stepping down from his role next summer. And the news definitely wasn’t received lightly.
Reds fans are aware of the powerful, hidden influence that Michael Edwards has had on Liverpool’s recent success in England and beyond.
A free-thinker and one who speaks his mind, he has been vital in the process of high-profile transfer negotiations for players such as Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, Edwards cutting down the price of the latter from £90m to £67m. And that’s just two deals.
Since 2015, Edwards has contributed to the recruitment and the offloading of players such as Joe Gomez, Thiago, Gini Wijnaldum, Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Jordon Ibe, Dominic Solanke, Rhian Brewster, Philippe Coutinho, Harry Wilson and Danny Ward.
In whole, once all the purchases and sales are taken into account, all those deals total a net spend of… £9m. Just nine million pounds. That statistic can compliment Edwards on its own.
Also, one of his many claims to fame is the signing of Salah. Jürgen Klopp, who preferred then Bayer Leverkusen youngster Julian Brandt, wasn’t convinced by the Egyptian.
Though, after discussions between the two friends, he was eventually talked over. Action was taken, and in the summer of 2018 Salah was signed from Roma for a fee of £34m. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Going back to Edwards’ relationship with the German, it is one tightly sealed by mutual respect even when the two disagree.
“It is a very good relationship. He is a very thoughtful person,” said Klopp in 2020. “We don’t always have to have the same opinion from the first second of a conversation, but we finish pretty much all our talks with the same opinion or similar opinions.”
Edwards’ recent brilliance heavily compliments the self-sustainable model that Liverpool has built within the transfer market in recent years, an active subject of debate, which offers a lot of thanks to Edwards. He was, and still is, a perfect match for this financial tradition at Liverpool.
After an abundance of recent success, it’s not necessarily clear as to why Edwards is keen to step down this season after nearly five largely successful years under Klopp, though senior club sources have insisted that talks are still taking place at present, according to The Athletic.Embed from Getty Images
Fortunately, these claims have assured that he is indeed contemplating stepping down on his own accord – not in mysterious circumstances, a conclusion to which some on social media appear to have jumped to.
A likely replacement for Edwards could be a certain Julian Ward, appointed assistant sporting director to Edwards in December of last year. Ward, who would’ve been at Edwards’ side during some of those transfer negotiations, was the club’s loan pathways and football partnerships manager for five years.
He has spent a year under Edwards’ wing, but whether he is ready and suitable for the job is a question I can’t answer. Nor can many other Liverpool fans and writers.
If he is required to step up, let’s hope he can have the same sort of impact his predecessor did.
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