Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season and his assistant Julian Ward is appointed as his successor.
Owners Fenway Sports Group have had to admit defeat after a number of attempts to convince the 42-year-old to stay put and sign a contract extension.
the athletic revealed in August that Edwards, who initially joined Liverpool as head of performance and analysis in 2011 and was promoted to sporting director five years later, was ready to walk away and take on a new challenge.
Sources close to Edwards insist he has no other job and have dismissed reports that he could be working with Eddie Howe at Newcastle United.
Ward was appointed deputy sporting director in December 2020 and has further cemented his reputation with owners over the past year. He was involved in the £36million signing of Ibrahima Konate and a host of contract extensions for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
the athletic understands that Edwards has played a key role in identifying Ward as the best candidate to succeed him and preparing him for the role. With Edwards staying until the end of the season, Anfield officials believe the club will benefit from “an orderly and well-managed transition”.
Ward has proved to be a great asset to Liverpool since Manchester City’s first arrival as the club’s European scouting manager for Spain and Portugal in 2012. He became the manager of Liverpool loans and football partnerships when the club created the new role in 2015.
In an open letter to supporters on Liverpoolfc.com, Edwards said: “I always intended to limit my time at the club to a maximum of 10 years.
“I’ve loved working here, but I’m a big believer in change. I think it’s good for the individual and, in a work environment, good for the employer too.
“Over the course of my time here we’ve changed so many things (hopefully for the better), but someone new brings a different perspective, new ideas and hopefully can build (or change) on the things that were put in place beforehand.”
Speaking of Ward, Edwards said: “Julian has built the skills for this role over many years. Last year he took on the role of Assistant Sporting Director and over the past 12 months he has been introduced to other facets of the role that are essential to its success. I think he’s ideal for the role.
“I will continue to support him in the coming season as we complete the leadership transition.”