Liverpool announced on Wednesday that transfer guru Michael Edwards will leave the club at the end of the season.
ESPN reported in August that the club’s sporting director was out of contract at the end of this campaign and did not commit to a new deal to continue his role in charge of the player recruitment team.
Edwards will be replaced by his deputy Julian Ward, who was promoted to the position of assistant sporting director in December 2020.
Liverpool released a statement which read: “The 42-year-old has given notice to the club’s ownership of his wish to pursue a new challenge when his contract ends, allowing for a carefully managed and orderly transition to take place.
“Headed up by Edwards, the club’s current football operations team have collectively played a pivotal role in aiding the success of Jurgen Klopp’s side on the pitch, reaching back-to-back Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, ultimately securing a sixth European Cup in Madrid.
“The UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup were added to the trophy cabinet before a 30-year wait for the league championship was ended in June 2020 when the Reds sealed the Premier League title having been runners-up in the previous season.”
Edwards has implemented the blueprint of FenwaySports Group (FSG), Liverpool’s owners, during his time as sporting director, overseeing the club’s attempts to identify and recruit high quality players for sensible fees, at the same time as offloading players at the key moment.
The decision to let Philippe Coutinho join Barcelona for £142 million in January 2018 was questioned by supporters at the time, but the proceeds of that deal allowed Liverpool to sign Virgil van Dijk for £75m and goalkeeper Alisson Becker for £67m.
Edwards wrote an open letter to the supporters on the club’s official website and said: “Ten years, that’s a pretty long time in anyone’s working life. 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.
“To be part of this club during this period has been a privilege due to the people I have been fortunate enough to work with and the success we have enjoyed.
“But all good things must come to an end and, in my case, I recently completed my final summer window as Liverpool sporting director. Even writing those words seems a bit surreal, but at the end of this season I will pack up my laptop and leave my office at the AXA Training Centre for the last time.
“Before I do so, though, I wanted to take this opportunity to explain the reasons why I’m moving on because I’m a great believer that supporters deserve clarity at times like this. The last thing I want is unfounded speculation, particularly as I know the Liverpool Football Club that I am leaving behind couldn’t be in better hands.”
Edwards has been linked with a role at Newcastle United but sources have told ESPN that he is not interested in moving to St James’ Park.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp also paid tribute to Edwards and said: “I wish Michael and his wonderful family all the best, for whatever they choose to do next.
“I know he isn’t leaving immediately or in haste, which is cool, so we still have some time to work together. If we are as fortunate and blessed as we have been so far, maybe we can create more special memories for our club in this remaining time.
“He has been a constant presence during my period at LFC and his contribution to our success is clear for everyone to see.”
ESPN’s Jamie Braidwood contributed to this report.