Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward will step down as the club’s sporting director at the end of the season after a year in charge.
Ward assumed duties from his predecessor Michael Edwards, who was widely credited with much of the Reds’ recent success in the transfer market, in the summer but has chosen to leave as it is understood he wishes to take a break after more than a decade at the club.
His decision was unexpected and is understood to have been greeted with disappointment within the club, although they are confident the continuity which saw him succeed Edwards will again provide them with some stability, underpinned by long-standing senior staff including Dave Fallows (head of recruitment) and Barry Hunter (chief scout) who continue to have a central roles.
The club have begun a process to identify which model will be most effective for the future and the PA news agency understands manager Jurgen Klopp, who recently extended his contract until 2026, will play a pivotal role in the process along with chief executive Billy Hogan.
Ward will stay in his role until May after informing the Reds’ owners that he wishes to take a break from football.
The 41-year-old initially joined the Premier League club from Manchester City in 2012.
He joined as their European scouting manager for Spain and Portugal before stepping into the loan pathways and partnerships manager role three years later.
In December 2020, Ward became assistant sporting director to Edwards, before taking on the main role after he left the club last summer.
Edwards has been out of work since walking away from Anfield at the end of last season.
Manchester United and Chelsea were reportedly interested in his services, though he opted against a move to either Premier League club.
There are further changes scheduled behind the scenes as Liverpool’s director of research Ian Graham, who has been at the club since 2012, will also leave at the end of the season after it emerged he handed in his resignation in June and is serving a notice period.
Former Reds defender Jamie Carragher said the departures added to the feeling of upheaval at the club coming so soon after owners Fenway Sports Group decided to put it up for sale.
“It’s not ideal because when you are talking about recruiting players a person in that role is heavily involved not just for right now, the January transfer window, but you’re talking about the summer as well,” Carragher told Sky Sports News.
“It does feel like a little bit of a shock and I think it is a little bit of a worry for Liverpool right now.
“There seems to be a lot of upheaval behind the scenes in terms of the ownership, Michael Edwards has moved on and Julian Ward came in to replace him and now he’s gone as well.
“I don’t think it will be easy to get someone (for sporting director) straight away and if it is unexpected for Liverpool I’m sure they are not prepared for that right now.”