Liverpool shocked by Julian Ward’s decision to quit as sporting director

Liverpool’s sporting director, Julian Ward, has decided to leave the club at the end of the season, only months after replacing Michael Edwards in the post.

Ward officially succeeded the influential Edwards in the summer after being promoted from assistant sporting director, although he led Liverpool’s recruitment of Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez before then while operating in a transitional leadership role.

The 41-year-old’s decision has come as a shock and disappointment to Liverpool, who are now considering whether to continue with the sporting director model that was first introduced under Edwards in 2016. Jürgen Klopp, who likes the sporting director structure and was close to both Edwards and Ward, will have a pivotal role in deciding how Liverpool’s football operations should be run come the end of the season. The chief executive, Billy Hogan, will also be involved in the final decision that could see Liverpool maintain the current set-up and have a third sporting director in just over a year.

No explanation has been given for Ward’s exit but he has told Liverpool he intends to take a break at the end of the season and has no intention of starting a job at a new club in the immediate future. While the Liverpool-born sporting director has been in his post for only several months officially, he has worked for the club for over a decade since joining from Manchester City.

Ward was a European scouting manager and a loans and pathways manager before becoming Edwards’ assistant during a highly-successful period for Liverpool. He has a close working relationship with head of recruitment, Dave Fallows, and chief scout, Barry Hunter, both of whom will continue to have a central role in Liverpool’s transfer strategy.

Liverpool believe the advance notice from Ward, together with their long-established football strategy, will ensure business continues as normal this season. They have no reservations over their sporting director remaining in his role until the end of the campaign, with Ward’s character and professional integrity unquestioned.

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