Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Michael Edwards returns to Liverpool as CEO of football, tasked with overseeing post-Jurgen Klopp era

Liverpool announced a restructuring of their soccer operations on Tuesday, including the return of highly regarded ex-sporting director Michael Edwards in a new role as Fenway Sports Group’s CEO of football.

Edwards’ re-hiring comes after a lengthy back-and-forth in negotiations, in which FSG continued to insist he was the main candidate to lead their vision moving forward. The end result sees Edwards take on a newly envisioned, higher-ranking role than his previous one as the sporting director. He will be tasked with overseeing day-to-day operations, taking over for FSG president Mike Gordon, who will maintain his spot on the company’s board and will be the person Edwards reports to.

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Previously, Edwards was with Liverpool from 2011 to 2022. He was initially hired as the head of performance and analysis but was promoted to sporting director in 2016 and has been credited with playing a major part in the team’s success in recent years. Edwards identified Jurgen Klopp to succeed Brendan Rodgers as the manager in 2015, per The Athletic, and was behind the signings of top players like Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk.

Though FSG wanted him to stick around, Edwards left at the end of his contract and took a break before launching an advisory service, Ludonautics, last year. He will step down from his role with the company before rejoining Liverpool.

Edwards’ return in a new position means the role of sporting director is freeing up at Liverpool, with ex-Bournemouth technical director Richard Hughes the reported favorite to take the role. His stock is high after the Cherries found success under manager Andoni Iraola, who was hired by Bournemouth last year.

Edwards and the eventual sporting director will be tasked with ushering in a new era at Liverpool. Klopp will leave the club at the end of the season after a successful eight-plus year spell and much of his coaching staff will go with him, so finding his successor — and perhaps a batch of new players to complement the new manager — will be one of their primary tasks.

That is far from the only responsibility under Edwards’ purview, though. He will be leading FSG’s soccer strategy, which will likely include the acquisition of another club and the creation of a network of teams that resembles the approach City Football Group, Red Bull and others have taken in recent years. One of the functions of the that club, likely to be one of smaller stature than Liverpool, would be to serve as a potential talent pipeline for the Reds.

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