New Liverpool director Richard Hughes’ greatest transfer decisions include Mings and Ramsdale sales

Matt Stead
Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and manager Scott Parker, and Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips
Richard Hughes has engineered some excellent deals

Liverpool have chosen Richard Hughes to help guide their brave new post-Klopp era and the Bournemouth sporting director’s CV includes some brilliant deals.

Michael Edwards is back and he’s bringing his mate with him. Here are the 10 biggest reasons why.

The best Edwards decisions are here.


10) Signing Ryan Christie
As part of the recruitment team which helped spot Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas, Artur Boruc and Joshua King before moving into the role of first-team technical director, subsequently delivering Lewis Cook, David Brooks, Lloyd Kelly and many other key figures in Bournemouth’s rise, Hughes has been responsible for identifying some crucial cogs in this machine.

Few have been as important as Christie. It was at the start of Bournemouth’s second season in the Championship that the midfielder was signed from Celtic for £1.5m. Three years later he is perhaps as central as ever to the club’s process, transforming his game from that of a versatile player who could be deployed wide or as a No. 10, into one of the best pressing midfielders in the entire Premier League.

Andoni Iraola has described him as “the most tactically intuitive player” of those he inherited on the south coast. Christie even said Hughes “was absolutely brilliant” in sorting the deadline-day deal, adding that “he was up in Scotland watching me all those years ago”.

Any technical director willing to travel up to Inverness to watch a potential signing is worth having.


9) Making money on Arnaut Danjuma
Not every signing works out. Hughes himself once said “if you’re signing 20 players and a third of that could be a failure, generally speaking it’s a success,” and even that seems like a high bar, when factoring in all the volatile variables with recruitment.

Danjuma was a case in point where the equation seemed to make sense but the numbers never quite fit. A player with enough talent to score in a Champions League quarter-final victory over Bayern Munich has nevertheless proven with three separate clubs not to be suited to the Premier League.

The forward joined Bournemouth in summer 2019 for £13.7m but suffered with injuries in a season which culminated in relegation and not a single goal contribution. A wildly improved second campaign saw him crowned Bournemouth’s Player of the Year in the Championship and that was enough for Villarreal to tempt the Cherries into making a cool profit of £7.6m within 52 appearances.


8) The sale of Tyrone Mings
Hughes and Michael Edwards have been friends since crossing paths almost two decades ago at Portsmouth but the pair surely bonded over an innate ability to make decent money out of the most fringe players possible. Hughes certainly helped Edwards in that regard by throwing money at Liverpool for Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith but he also had his moments, shaking £20m out of Benik Afobe, Lewis Grabban and Max Gradel in the same summer.

It would be harsh to describe Mings as such a player, considering his struggles in establishing himself at Bournemouth were related more to the long-term knee and back injuries he suffered in his time there, as well as stepping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic that one time. But flipping an £8m signing into a £25m sale on the back of 23 games in four years was phenomenal business.

That he has been excellent for Aston Villa does nothing to reflect poorly on Bournemouth; it was an archetypal move to suit all parties.

READ MORETyrone Mings for £20m proves fees are irrelevant


7) Loaning Nathaniel Phillips
Liverpool are certainly familiar enough with Hughes; the Cherries have signed more players from the Reds than any other club during his eight years in charge of recruitment.

The return has not been exemplary – the Ibe and Smith deals really were rotten for all involved – but loaning Phillips marked a turn in the tide which eventually carried Bournemouth back to the top flight.

The January 2022 transfer window as a whole was a success with Kieffer Moore and Todd Cantwell playing important roles in their promotion, but Phillips was the key. Bournemouth were outside the automatic promotion places when he joined, having lost their last two games. They were beaten just twice in his 17 Championship games, keeping eight clean sheets. The nominal loan fee was a literal small price to pay for promotion.


6) Going from Scott Parker to Gary O’Neil and Andoni Iraola
It is a satisfying managerial succession line to read, particularly considering Hughes had been closely associated for years with the first two head coaches he worked alongside in his technical director role: Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall.

Bournemouth understandably struggled to look beyond their comfort zone and move on from the former’s long reign; the appointment of Jonathan Woodgate is not remembered fondly.

Parker did at least achieve the promotion which became a minimum requirement with such a talented squad, but that did not end well for the worst manager in Premier League history.

Parker’s clashes with then-owner Maxim Demin and the Hughes-led recruitment team – as well as his own severe shortcomings – led to his downfall. The ascent of O’Neil has been inexorable since but that does not make Bournemouth’s decision to switch from his course a mistake. They knew how good O’Neil was and were grateful for his work in steering them to ultimately serene safety; they just wanted something different.

Iraola provided that and owner Bill Foley named Hughes as the driving force behind a change which has pulled Bournemouth clear of any relegation concerns and into a more settled mid-table spot with the sort of scalability that felt beyond them previously.


5) Signing and selling Aaron Ramsdale
A simple story of buying low and selling high. Bournemouth signed Ramsdale from Sheffield United for £800,000 in January 2017 and sold him back to the Blades for £18.5m three-and-a-half years and one first-team season later. Liverpool fans know a net spend king when they see one.


4) Getting £10m for Lys Mousset
Hughes and Edwards might well have solidified their association through a mutual rinsing of Sheffield United. The latter squeezed £23.5m out of the Blades for Rhian Brewster and the former procured an eight-figure fee for the similarly goalless Mousset a year or so earlier.

Mousset was never a regular starter under Howe and five goals in 71 games tell most of the story as to why. Potential shown in the lower French leagues has never quite been fulfilled by the current 28-year-old free agent.

But Hughes extracting a record fee from a fellow Premier League club for a player of ostensibly low worth undeniably bodes well.


3) Signing and selling Nathan Ake
The quality of Ake was hardly a secret when Bournemouth loaned him in June 2016. The defender’s Premier League debut for Chelsea had already come more than three years before and his status as an academy star was only enhanced through temporary spells at Reading and Watford.

So impressive was the Dutchman when Bournemouth borrowed him that Chelsea recalled him that January, giving Ake another minor role in a Premier League title win after Jose Mourinho did similar in 2014/15.

It was expected that Ake would return to Stamford Bridge to compete for first-team minutes but the centre-half side-stepped some trademark Antonio Conte snark to gamble on himself and join Bournemouth permanently.

Three seasons later, the Cherries sold him for twice what they initially paid as Ake became, at the time, the most expensive sale in Championship history. He replaced Moussa Sissoko and there can be no greater honour.


2) Net spend
Considering the imminent plight Leicester face upon the expected promotion they are nevertheless trying their damnedest to mess up, it is worth looking at Bournemouth’s response to relegation in 2020.

The actual pausing of the world and subsequent threat of financial collapse was a factor but the Cherries sold Ake for £40m, Wilson for £20m, Ramsdale for £18m and clawed together whatever money they could elsewhere, including offloading the considerable wages of Jermain Defoe. Their spend was whatever it cost to loan Rodrigo Riquelme and Cameron Carter-Vickers for a season.

Across eight years with Hughes in charge of transfers, a net spend of about £200m to essentially build two new sides, establish them in the Premier League and leave them with a handful of mightily saleable assets on whom a healthy profit can be turned as and when necessary is a fine achievement Liverpool understandably feel can be translated to a higher plane.


1) Signing Dominic Solanke
“Everyone wants to judge a signing the day they come into the building and on the first game they play,” Hughes said in May 2019, “but when you’ve got a management team, as we do here, whose main asset is with the development of players I think you’re better off looking at the product a year and a half and not a week and a half down the line.”

It took even longer for the £19m Bournemouth dropped on Solanke four months before that interview to represent anything like a decent price. The striker had scored one goal in 27 Liverpool appearances, of which only six were starts, but Anfield tax meant an inflated fee.

Bournemouth had seemingly been sold a dud, going by the evidence of his four goals in 46 games before relegation. Even a couple of prolific Championship seasons did little to convince the sceptics that Solanke was worth anything close to what the Cherries paid.

But their perseverance has helped Solanke hold up his end of what now looks to be a bargain in a glorious working relationship alongside Iraola. It might yet be one golden season and an exception to the rule but Bournemouth could conceivably sell the 26-year-old forward for at least three times their initial investment, all because of the sort of patience Hughes preaches.