Liverpool transfer guru Michael Edwards will leave the club at the end of the season, sources told ESPN, with the widely respected sporting director being replaced by deputy Julian Ward.

Edwards, who moved to Liverpool from Tottenham in 2011 to take on the position of Head of Analytics, is seen by the Anfield hierarchy as a crucial element of the club’s success in recent years, with his contribution from many inside and outside the club as important as that of manager Jürgen Klopp.

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Liverpool sources have told ESPN that Edwards was out of the contract at the end of this season and has not yet signed on to a new contract to continue his role as player recruiting team manager.

However, other sources have told ESPN that Edwards has made his decision to seek a new challenge and that Ward, who was promoted to assistant sporting director in December 2020, will take over the leadership role once Edwards leaves the club.

Michael Edwards (left) has been with Liverpool since 2011. Photo by John Powell / Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Edwards implemented the blueprint of FenwaySports Group (FSG), the owners of Liverpool, during his tenure as sporting director, overseeing the club’s attempts to identify and recruit high quality players at reasonable fees while also firing players at the crucial moment.

The decision to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £ 142million in January 2018 was questioned by fans at the time, but the proceeds from that deal enabled Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk for £ 75million and goalkeeper Alisson Becker for £ 67million Oblige pounds.

Led by Edwards, the Liverpool recruiting team also secured the engagements of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino for relatively low fees.