Michael Edwards has gained himself a reputation as being one of football’s best sporting directors.
But his reign at Liverpool may be coming to an end when his contract expires at the end of the season, according to reports.
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, are keen to keep hold of the transfer guru, whose business at Anfield over the past few years has helped them win both the Premier League and Champions League.
But Edwards has yet to commit to staying beyond 2022 and the Reds are seemingly already preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Julian Ward has recently been promoted to assistant sporting director and would likely succeed Edwards, should he part company with the Merseyside club.
Of course, it is all speculation at this point, and Liverpool will be hoping to retain Edwards’ services for many years to come.
Here are five times Edwards pulled off a blinder for the Reds.
Philippe Coutinho’s sting in the tail
Liverpool did their best to keep hold of Philippe Coutinho amid Barcelona’s barrage of interest in 2017.
But eventually, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were forced to concede defeat in January 2018.
Coutinho handed in a request to leave via email as Barca continued to bang Liverpool’s door down and just like that the Brazilian was sold for a cool £142million.
The transfer fee alone was impressive, especially as the money was used to sign Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.
But it was the small print in the Coutinho contract that really caught the eye.
Edwards included a unique clause that prevented Barcelona from signing Liverpool players until 2021 without paying a huge premium of £80million on top of any agreed figure.
Barcelona had got the better of the Reds too many times in the past, with Javier Mascherano, Luis Suarez and Coutinho all leaving Anfield for the Camp Nou.
This secret clause, inserted by Edwards, effectively put an end to Liverpool being Barcelona’s feeder club.
Takumi Minamino at a complete steal
Liverpool completed the signing of Takumi Minamino from RB Salzburg back in 2019.
At the time, Minamino was the subject of interest from a number of top clubs, including Manchester United.
But Liverpool managed to snap him up for just £7.25million, with Minamino putting pen to paper on a four-year deal.
Edwards’ connections meant Liverpool learnt of a release clause in Minamino’s Salzburg contract before any other club.
So while the rest of the chasing pack were in a stand-off while drawing up plans to make a £20million-plus bid for the Japan international, Liverpool swopped in and triggered the clause.
Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch said at the time: “The thing that hurt with Taki is that Liverpool got him way, way, way too cheap.
“But this is part of managing the market and managing player contracts.
“We always have here, with the scouting team and the sports director, they do an amazing job, and we always have the next generation of players here and ready to take the next step.”
Try before you buy with Ozan Kabak
Injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip last season meant Liverpool were in dire need of a new centre-back when the 2021 January transfer window rolled around.
Klopp was finding it difficult to hone in on a defender as Liverpool’s desperate situation saw other clubs up their prices, and voiced his frustration at the time.
“You know the situation with centre-halves out there,” said Klopp.
“You know the clubs where the centre-halves are playing, because everyone is talking about them. Tell me if one of these clubs needs the money and needs to sell a player? And if they need money then they want crazy money.
“I am not sure there is an £80million centre-back available at the moment and a club thinks ‘We can get £80m for him so we will sell him’. The teams would not sell this calibre of player now.”
Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
With time running out, and Liverpool still in need of new recruits, the club signed Ozan Kabak.
Signing the young Turkish defender outright would have cost Liverpool around £18million, which is a lot more than they wanted to pay for a cover player, especially mid-season.
So instead Edwards struck a deal that saw Liverpool loan Kabak for just £1million for the season.
Crucially, the loan deal included an option – not an obligation – to buy the player for £18million at the end of the campaign.
This took all pressure off the transfer and effectively made it a win, win scenario for the Reds.
In the end, Kabak provided Liverpool with some sturdy cover for the remainder of the season, but the Reds ultimately decided the defender wasn’t good enough when Van Dijk and co. returned from injury, and he was returned to Schalke.
Selling Rhian Brewster for £23.5million
Liverpool needed money in the summer of 2020 after signing Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich.
Rhian Brewster has been at the club since 2015, but the youngster has struggled to break into the first team and was in need of a new challenge heading into last season.
There was much interest in the forward, but eventually, Liverpool sold Brewster to Sheffield United for £23.5million.
The figure isn’t a huge amount, but it includes a 15 per cent sell-on fee that becomes active if the Blades sell the forward.
The Reds also have a buy-back option that lasts for three years, meaning they have first option to re-sign Brewster should he start fulfilling his potential.
Brewster struggled for form last season as Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League, and this campaign has again started badly for the young Englishman.
The Blades are second-bottom in the Championship and are yet to taste victory, with Brewster also failing to get on the scoresheet.
Offloading Jordan Ibe for £15million
The were questions as to whether Liverpool had made the correct call when Jordan Ibe was sold for £15million.
Bournemouth supporters were delighted as the Cherries broke their transfer record to sign the Englishman on a four-year deal.
But the transfer just didn’t work out for Bournemouth.
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Ibe failed to score a single goal in his first season on the south coast, despite featuring 26 times in all competitions.
The following season the Englishman made 38 appearances and managed two goals and then three in 24 in the 2018/19 campaign.
Ibe made just four appearances in his final season at the club before leaving on a free.
He was eventually picked up by Derby but made just one appearance before being released. He is currently without a club.