Michael Edwards’ time at Anfield has been a triumphant success behind the scenes at Liverpool.
Supporters may look to Jurgen Klopp when considering who has masterminded their achievements over the last few years but there have been other forces at play, that of Edwards’ remarkable negotiation skills.
If you’re struggling to convince someone of what to do, then getting the Liverpool sporting director on speed dial would certainly be your best shout.
His cunning methodology isn’t as brash and heavy metal as Klopp’s gegenpressing system on the pitch but the duo have been a match made in heaven during their respective spells at the club.
Edwards arrived on the scene in 2016 and rapidly revamped the recruitment structure at Liverpool.
The manager’s tactics and coaching has been imperative but without the likes of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah, none of it would have been possible.
He helped bring all three players to Merseyside but it is Salah who has proven to be the most devastating.
The Egyptian has quickly become one of the most ruthless players in the Premier League and during 2021/22, he is undoubtedly the best on the planet. A return of 15 goals in as many games has elevated him to new heights in the English game but there is a worry he could depart for pastures new.
Salah is embroiled in a lengthy contract saga and with Edwards set to take his leave next summer, supporters will be forgiven for thinking their effervescent attacking star will join him in the departure lounge.
However, in Julian Ward, they have their ready-made Edwards successor who is primed to take Premier League and continental football by storm.
Aged just 40, he is a young brain-box but few can doubt his talents behind the curtain. Klopp has already described him as “incredible” and it’s not a surprise to see why.
He has aided Liverpool’s departing sporting director superbly of late and was imperative in tying down Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, van Dijk and goalkeeper, Alisson, to new contracts.
With that in mind, it would be safe to say that Ward has the necessary negotiation skills to keep Salah at Anfield too.
It will be no easy task but he has already proven he has an armoury of persuasive words in his locker.
And for any Liverpool supporter who still doubts his ability to ensure their Egyptian sensation remains under Klopp’s tutelage, we’ll let Edwards do the talking.
Speaking in an official club statement about his successor, he marvelled over Ward’s ability.
He said: “Julian has been building up the skillset for this role for many years and there are countless elements of his development that could be highlighted, none more so than the outstanding work he did in creating our loan department six years ago.
“It was during this period that he not only laid the groundwork for a long-term process that continues to provide significant benefit to players and club, he also accelerated his learning on many of the aspects you deal with as a sporting director,” Edwards continued.
“Last year, he took on the role of assistant sporting director and over the past 12 months he has been introduced to other facets of the role that are vital to its success.
“Julian’s elevation is wholly in keeping with what I believe to be a key factor of the ‘Liverpool Way’, with promotion from within ensuring expertise, experience and institutional knowledge are cherished in the way that they should be.”
A ringing endorsement from the man he’s worked so closely with should be enough for the Liverpool faithful to get excited heading towards next season.
Losing Edwards will represent a bitter blow in their bid to keep Salah but Ward is certainly capable of employing similar tactics with Liverpool.
If he can unleash a similar charm on the Liverpool hero as he did with Alexander-Arnold and co, their goal-scoring sensation should end up remaining in England for quite some time.
This would be a huge checkmark in Ward’s bid to make the club even better as he gears up for a bigger role with the Reds.