Two influential Liverpool figures will leave at season’s end amid speculation of a transfer overhaul and a Jurgen Klopp powerplay.
Liverpool owners FSG recently announced their intention to sell the club they’ve owned since 2010. At the very least, they’re seeking outside investment, though Man Utd’s decision to also pursue a sale may have dire consequences for those on Merseyside.
The current campaign has been a curious one at Anfield to say the least. On-field fortunes have tumbled, while the club’s decision to not properly address their obvious midfield issues over the summer was roundly criticised.
The Reds’ season has now lurched further into head-scratching territory after two critical departures were confirmed.
Firstly, Julian Ward has informed the club he’ll step down as Sporting Director come the end of the season. The news was confirmed by several reputable outlets and sources, including the Athletic, the Times and Fabrizio Romano.
Ward only officially took the role over the summer upon succeeding the heralded Michael Edwards. Ward had worked as Edwards’ assistant for 18 months prior to his promotion and the pair were lauded for making FSG’s break-even transfer policy work wonders for Klopp.
The Liverpool Echo reported Liverpool are ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the news, though fully accept his decision.
It’s claimed Ward does not have a role at another club lined up. Instead, his decision is a personal one and he intends to take a break from football altogether.
Second Liverpool exit confirmed
Adding to the bad news for Liverpool is confirmation their Head of Research, Ian Graham, will also depart.
That was confirmed by many of the same respectable sources, including David Ornstein of the Athletic.
Graham reportedly handed in his notice earlier this year, though only now has the news come to light. Graham is currently serving his notice period and worked closely with both Edwards and Ward, per Ornstein.
Graham headed up Liverpool’s data analysis team and was a critical component in the machine that has turned out so many masterstrokes in the market over recent years.
Part of his duties involved scouring the market for the best value and sifting through the mountains of data their transfer department collected. One look at Liverpool’s transfer record in recent years suggests he’ll leave a big hole in the recruitment team.
Klopp taking greater control?
Both stories come amid renewed speculation manager Jurgen Klopp has pushed for more power behind the scenes.
The Times’ ever-reliable Paul Joyce recently reported Klopp has taken on a more ‘hands-on’ role over the last 12 months. The German is expected to be heavily involved in appointing successors to Ward and Graham too.
Joyce also claimed Liverpool are considering whether a change in transfer policy is required moving forwards to continue to compete for top honours. Clearly, their break-even policy appears to have run its course.
On that front, new owners may be required if Liverpool are to begin splashing the cash each window.
If FSG remain in charge and are unable to find a suitable buyer willing to meet their demands, Liverpool may find their current blip quickly becomes the new norm.
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