Liverpool have become one of the world’s best clubs since Jurgen Klopp took charge in 2015, but the work of one club hero often goes under the radar.
Michael Edwards, who heads the club’s recruitment, has been a revelation for the Reds in not only bringing in key players, but also selling stars for huge profits.
Since arriving in 2011, Edwards fronted the club’s superb transfer policy which has directly led to their Premier League and Champions League successes.
The Anfield faithful will undoubtedly be gutted that he announced he’s stepping down at the end of the current campaign.
His deputy sporting director Julian Ward will assume Edwards’ duties at the end of the season and it’s safe to say he has some huge shoes to fill.
Nevertheless, Edwards might just be giving Liverpool one last parting gift this month, if you look at it a certain way, as Philippe Coutinho prepares to move to Aston Villa on loan.
Welcome, Philippe Coutinho! 🙌
Aston Villa and FC Barcelona have agreed terms for Philippe Coutinho to spend the rest of this season on loan at Villa Park. 🇧🇷
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 7, 2022
Coutinho has sealed a surprise move Villa to reunite with his former teammate Steven Gerrard in a remarkable bit of business for the Midlands club.
With his dream move to Barcelona turning into a nightmare, Coutinho’s move could end up benefiting Liverpool in more than just a financial sense now he’s back in the Premier League, and Aston Villa facing games against the Reds’ title rivals.
The football gods work in mysterious ways and, who knows, he could play a big role in denting Manchester City or Chelsea’s title hopes before the season draws to a close in May, though Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders do look unstoppable at the moment.
Edwards has done some remarkable business but the £143million sale of Coutinho to Barcelona might be his best.
Signed for just £8.5m from Inter in 2013, the Brazilian was absolutely brilliant in his five years at Anfield – despite not picking up any silverware.
Liverpool were reluctant to sell him at the time but fans will now know the transfer was a God send, as the huge profits from his sale ultimately saw two players arrive who have been instrumental to their recent success.
Virgil van Dijk was acquired from Southampton for £75million and he transformed the Reds’ defence with immediate effect, strengthening what was the weak point in the team in seamlessly rapid fashion.
Allison was also brought in the following window in the summer to replace Loris Karius and – although he has had his moments – the Brazilian had hardly put a foot wrong since arriving from Roma for £66m.
The two reported fees for the Van Dijk and Alisson add up to a £142m – just one million short of the whole fee Barcelona forked out for Coutinho.
That demonstrates just how incredible the sale has proved to be, but it’s just one of dozens of superb deals Edwards has overseen.
In recent times, Liverpool have sold fringe players who are hardly getting a sniff of first-team action for huge sums – and people are often left scratching their head at how the club managed to pull it off.
Rhian Brewster was sold to Sheffield United in 2020 for a huge £23.5m fee – a club-record for the Blades – despite making just four appearances for Liverpool.
Bournemouth also landed Jordon Ibe on a four-year deal for a club-record £15m in 2016, before then splashing out £19 to sign then-Reds ace Dominic Solanke three years later.
The Reds also flogged Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward to Leicester for £12.5m in 2018, having spent just £100,000 to land him from Wrexham in 2012.
More recently, little-known academy goalkeeper Kamil Grabara was sold to FC Copenhagen in 2021 for £3million, having joined Liverpool for £250,000 from Polish club Ruch Chorzow in 2016.
Ki-Jana Hoever was another big-money mover. The Reds signed the young Dutch defender from Ajax for just £90,000 in 2018, and then agreed a deal to sell him to Wolves for £13.5million in 2020.
The flogging of the deadwood has accumulated huge sums of money for the club and Edwards is almost solely responsible for their lucrative profits.
There’s a reason why Real Madrid are now reportedly sniffing around to bring the 41-year-old to the Bernabeu.
Edwards’ smart business is one reason why Liverpool have gone some way to going toe-to-toe with Man City in recent years.
Klopp will desperate his deputy Ward has been watching closely as he prepares to take the job.
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