Friday, April 19, 2024

Liverpool name Richard Hughes as sporting director as team continues preparation for life after Jurgen Klopp

Richard Hughes will take over as Liverpool’s new sporting director at the end of the 2023-24 season, the club have announced. The 44-year-old confirmed earlier this month that he would be leaving Bournemouth, where he had been technical director.

Hughes’ arrival follows the return of Michael Edwards to the Liverpool fold as CEO of Football at owners Fenway Sports Group, and the recruitment of what are likely to be the two most significant front office roles at Anfield will accelerate the process towards finding the successor to manager Jurgen Klopp.

Hughes developed a formidable reputation in recruitment circles for his work on the south coast, securing highly-regarded young English talent such as Tyrone Mings, Dominic Solanke, David Brooks and Lloyd Kelly. The incoming sporting director had previously worked with Edwards when both were at Portsmouth, the former a player and the latter an analyst.

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“I am incredibly proud to be offered this opportunity. Liverpool is a unique club and I’m grateful to be given a chance to serve it in this capacity,” said Hughes. “People rightly talk about the rich history this organization can boast, but it is the present and future which really excites me. Jurgen Klopp is leading an outstanding team and squad and alongside that the commitment to young players and their pathway to the first team is also outstanding.

“I am fully aware of the expectations and responsibilities that come with taking this position. It will be my job, working with Michael [Edwards] and leading the football operations team already in place, plus the wider staff at the AXA Training Centre, to make good decisions. That’s really what the job entails: you have to make the kind of good decisions which enhance the prospects of having a team that wins and excites the supporters. It is what Liverpool have done well for a very long time and the benefits are there for everyone to see.”

Hughes and Edwards are two significant appointments in a transitionary period at Anfield that will see Klopp leave at the end of the season along with much of his coaching staff. Interim sporting director Jorg Schmadtke departed at the end of the transfer window, the second man to take on that role in a short space of time after Edwards’ initial exit in 2022. Hughes’ arrival had long been viewed as contingent on Edwards, who said the new appointment is “absolutely someone who embodies the best values of Liverpool”.

Since Hughes retired from professional football he has retained close ties with Edwards, signing Solanke, Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith from Liverpool. Following relegation and subsequent investment from Bill Foley, Hughes’ recruitment at Bournemouth took on a more global profile with Dango Ouattara, Illya Zabarnyi and Marcos Senesi among his greatest recent successes.

Edwards said of Hughes, “He has outstanding judgement and a track record of making smart decisions which benefit the organizations he represents. Both Richard and I are aware of the weight of responsibility that comes with working in this capacity for a club such as this. The fact he is excited and energized by the challenge ahead is important.

“It is clear to everyone that Jurgen will leave a legacy to build upon and in Richard we have the right person to make the key decisions and offer the leadership to take us forward into a bright future. As one very successful chapter will come to a close for Liverpool in the summer, the objective of everyone here is for another one to begin – and with Richard I am confident we have the right person in position for us to achieve this aim.”

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