Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards is reportedly set to leave the Reds at the end of the season after a very successful spell at the club.
Renowned for his ability to secure high fees for squad players, Edwards has played a pivotal role in assembling Jürgen Klopp’s Premier League winning side.
Reports by The Athletic claim that after 10 years at Liverpool, Michael Edwards looks set to leave the club. The last decade saw Edwards rise through the ranks, taking him from head of performance and analysis before being promoted to sporting director in November 2016.
Many fans know him to be the mastermind behind some of the Reds’ best ever transfer business and, looking at the club’s recent success, it is not difficult to see why.
Here are the five best deals that Edwards oversaw during his time as sporting director:
5. Dominic Solanke – sold to AFC Bournemouth (£19m)Embed from Getty Images
Following the expiration of his contract with Chelsea, Dominic Solanke joined Liverpool for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be around £3m, after the two clubs came to an agreement to avoid a tribunal.
Fans were excited by the youngster’s potential after Solanke was named the Golden Ball winner following an impressive run in the u20 World Cup, which saw England triumphant.
However, this potential was never fulfilled at Anfield as Solanke scored just once in 27 appearances for the club.
Despite this, Michael Edwards pulled off a remarkable £19m fee for the striker, which saw him leave for Bournemouth in 2018.
He was unable to produce goal-scoring form for the Cherries, and they were subsequently relegated from the Premier League.
4. Andy Robertson – bought from Hull City (£8m)Embed from Getty Images
Looking back at this deal now, fans consider this one of the Reds’ best bargains of the last decade. Liverpool signed Robertson from relegated Hull City in a transfer worth an initial £8m, with midfielder Kevin Stewart going the other way for a similar fee.
Robertson has proved to have had one of the most remarkable rises to the top, with the Scotsman having been labelled a cheap option at left back when he arrived at Anfield in 2017.
However, that £8m price tag has proven to be an incredible investment as he has been nurtured into one of the best left backs in world football.
Being only 27 years old, Robertson is still young and therefore, he will play a crucial role in Liverpool’s team for years to come.
3. Mohamed Salah – bought from AS Roma (£37m)Embed from Getty Images
After establishing himself as one of the most dominant forwards in world football, it is incredible to think back to how some fans were dubious of the arrival of Mohamed Salah from AS Roma.
Joining for just £37m, an Edwards masterclass was evident from the very beginning, as the Egyptian went on to score a historic 44 goals in his debut season.
This electric form has consistently been demonstrated on a domestic and continental stage, illustrating how the winger is one of European football’s most elite forwards.
Salah’s composure in front of goal has been crucial to Liverpool’s success in the last few years. He won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2017/18 with a record breaking 32 goals in 38 games and was able to replicate this fine form the following season, retaining the accolade alongside teammate Sadio Mané and Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The £37m price tag appears to be one of the greatest bargains in Premier League history.
2. Virgil van Dijk – bought from Southampton (£75m)Embed from Getty Images
The emergence of Virgil van Dijk changed the mentality at Liverpool Football Club. Therefore, this may be considered Michael Edwards’ most essential arrival during his term as sporting director.
Since joining the club, van Dijk has established himself as the one of the world’s best defenders.
The Dutchman provides a most-needed calmness to the back-line – a stability that had been eluding the Reds’ defence for many years.
Virgil played every single minute of the 2019/20 Premier League season which saw Liverpool end their wait for the title with a club-record 99 points.
Rival fans questioned the £75m price tag, however van Dijk has proven the critics wrong after bringing four trophies to the club, in addition to a collection of individual accolades which include winning 2019’s UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and finishing runner-up in the Ballon d’Or.
Michael Edwards clearly had a vision in mind with the defender at the spine of the team.
1. Philippe Coutinho – sold to Barcelona (£142m)Embed from Getty Images
Michael Edwards’ best deal to date was the outgoing transfer of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for an eye-watering £142m fee.
Despite Coutinho’s efforts to force his way out of the club favouring the Barcelona transfer committee, Edwards still managed to extract an astounding fee for the player.
However, what makes that deal so special is the way in which the money was spent. Without that transfer fee, the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Fabinho would not have arrived at Anfield. These were the players that were pivotal in securing the Premier League title and without them, the success that we have seen both domestically and continentally over the past three years would not have been possible.
Edwards needed to reconstruct the spine of the team, and he was able to do so using the Coutinho money, bringing in world-class defensive players that the elite front-three and Jürgen Klopp could build upon.
Edwards’ brilliance did not stop with the fee; he negotiated a clause that prevented Barcelona from returning to Liverpool for any more players until 2020 – a further two years on from the original deal.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian midfielder, an underwhelming term at the Spanish club saw criticism arise amongst the fans. This eventually resulted in a loan move to Bayern Munich, in a bid to revitalise the player. However, this spell also proved to be disappointing, and Bayern passed up the chance to sign Coutinho permanently. Looking at this form now, Edwards’ deal seems even greater than it did in 2018.
Edwards has been responsible for a vast number of fantastic transfers during his time as sporting director. This list of five contains the most prominent of which, yet there are many more deals which could have been included.
As already spoken about, Alisson Becker has been phenomenal in goal for the Reds since his arrival from AS Roma. Joining for a fee of £65m, it was imperative that Liverpool brought in a goalkeeper to replace an out-of-form Loris Karius.
A very special mention goes to Sadio Mané, who joined Liverpool from Southampton in a deal worth £34m. This was a very similar incoming to Mohamed Salah, with the pair becoming some of the most feared wingers in Europe. Mané’s attacking output has been crucial for Klopp’s side, making this transfer one of Edwards’ best bits of business.
Lastly, another instance of Edwards receiving a sizeable fee for a fringe player came in the departure of Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United in a deal worth £23.5m. Despite showing promise in the academy, Brewster failed to make an impact with the first team. An impressive loan at Swansea City sparked rumours that the striker would stay with the club, but Brewster was let go before playing a single league game for the Reds, making the fee that Edwards obtained incredibly impressive.
Michael Edwards has played an essential role in transforming Liverpool from title challengers to champions. If he does indeed depart, the loss of Edwards will be felt heavily. With his assistant Julian Ward expected to take up the position of sporting director, it is unclear as to the effects the departure will have on the club in the future.
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