Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards is set to step down at the end of the season, with Julian Ward taking his place, having already overseen the transfer of Luis Diaz in January
Liverpool have now completed their final window with sporting director Michael Edwards still at the helm.
After more than 10 years at Anfield, Edwards announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of the season.
“Ten years, that’s a pretty long time in anyone’s working life,” he wrote in an open letter to Liverpool supporters in November. “In football terms, it is an era in itself, particularly at a club like Liverpool where the expectations and standards are never anything other than as high as the supporters deserve.”
And the ‘Michael Edwards era’ will go down as one of the most successful in the illustrious history of English football’s most decorated club.
Appointed in 2011, the 42-year-old has helped re-establish the Reds as one of the top clubs in Europe, whilst also leaving major fingerprints on their first domestic title in a generation.
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Edwards’ list of transfer hits is a staggering one – Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker, Andy Robertson and many more were masterminded by the transfer supremo, who will now be one of the most sought after executives in the game.
But it’s not only the arrivals that have seen Liverpool stand-out from their rivals off-the-field. Edwards, along with manager Jurgen Klopp, have known when to cut bait from their own players, even some of their biggest stars.
Philippe Coutinho is of course the best example of that – squeezing every penny out of Barcelona in the drawn-out transfer saga, eventually fetching almost £150million.
Luis Suarez made the same journey in 2014, signing for the Blaugrana in a deal worth £65million. When it became clear Raheem Sterling had his eye on the exit, he managed to get £57million from Premier League rivals Manchester City.
And it’s not just those high-profile exits, during his 11-year stay on Merseyside, Edwards has shown a remarkable ability to sell fringe players for exorbitant fees.
Dominic Solanke (£19m), Jordan Ibe (£16m), Danny Ward (£12m) and Harry Wilson £12m) are all recent examples of Liverpool recouping relatively huge fees for players that were never likely to make the grade for the Reds.
It’s a policy which has seen Liverpool’s net spend since the summer of 2012 stand at just £293m, according to research conducted by the CIES Football Observatory, below the likes of Aston Villa, West Ham and Merseyside neighbours Everton.
And a glance at the top of the list shows just how impressive Edwards’ reign in Liverpool has been. Champions League rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have net spends of £831m and £795m respectively, but Liverpool – comparatively at least – continue to punch well above their weight.
And a look across the M62 offers even greater clarity, with Manchester United ’s spend standing at a European high £907m , with very little on the pitch to currently show for it.
Edwards will be replaced by Julian Ward later this year – who has already shown his chops by getting a deal for Luis Diaz completed under the noses of Tottenham.
“All good things must come to an end,” Edwards wrote in his letter, Liverpool fans will be hoping his work is merely continued by his successor, but he has a task-and-a-half on his hands.