Attention turns to Julian Ward and summer plans after Luis Diaz signing

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A relatively quiet transfer window for Liverpool ended with a bang, thanks to the signing of Colombian winger, Luis Diaz, who was signed on the penultimate day of the window.

Fans have been crying out for a new attacker to provide backup and competition for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, in the same way that the signing of Diogo Jota has for No.9, Bobby Firmino.

Many are certainly delighted with the former Porto forward, who scored 14 goals in the Portuguese top-flight before the move, judging by the online reaction.

It is hoped that the 25-year-old will be able to settle quickly (the early signs are certainly more than positive in that regard) as Jurgen Klopp’s team look to compete on all fronts this term.

They are among the favourites to win both the Premier League and Champions League according to oddschecker who provide tips, analysis and lists of sites offering free bets that many fans use to back the Reds.

The Merseysiders are also in the final of the EFL cup, which will be played against Chelsea at the end of February, and it’s not beyond the realm of reality that the Colombian international could make an impact in the tie.

The transfer is also significant as it is set to be the final purchase of Michael Edwards’ tenure as sporting director.

Michael Edwards

The Englishman has been at Liverpool since 2011 and became the club’s sporting director in November 2016, since then he has been responsible for the club’s transfer dealings.

He led moves for many of today’s key players such as Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, and Diogo Jota – over half of the current first-choice starting-XI.

Edwards also oversaw the huge sales which facilitated these moves, such as Mamadou Sakho to Crystal Palace for £26m, Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona for £146m, Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth for £19m and Danny Ings to Southampton for £20m.

While most sporting directors are partial to as many misses as hits when it comes to transfers, it’s difficult to find a major discrepancy on his part.

He is set to be replaced by Julian Ward, who joined the club a year after the 42-year-old.

He was Liverpool’s scouting manager for Spain and Portugal for three years, before becoming the loan pathways and football partnerships manager in 2015.

At the end of 2020, he was promoted to the role of assistant sporting director, which has required him to work closely with Jurgen Klopp, helping smooth the transition.

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Once he officially replaces Edwards, the first order of business for Julian Ward is the contract renewals of star forwards Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Both players’ deals expire at the end of next season, so this summer is likely to be the deadline for whether they sign new contracts or are sold, especially if we want to avoid losing them for free.

With both at 29 years of age, their next contract is sure to be their last big one, so they’re rightly trying to get the most they can out of it.

Talks have already started with the wide men but unless Edwards manages to tie negotiations up before he leaves, it’s a major task that will be left to his protege.

He will have to decide whether it’ll be worth breaking the club’s wage structure for two of the most important players in the team.

Whilst they have proved their worth with countless goals for the club, there’s an element of caution that will underline negotiations with two stars set to turn 30 this year. 

The club is still working hard to recover the financial situation after many months without fans in the stadium, whilst Premier League rivals Arsenal provide a cautionary tale with how badly the huge deals they gave to Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang turned out.

Other concerns 

Ward will certainly have his work cut out; as well as Mane and Salah, key players like Matip, Van Dijk, Henderson and Milner are also 30 or older and will need replacing soon.

Though they are all still performing admirably and showing no signs of slowing down, the imperative for Liverpool, when it comes to keeping up with the financial juggernaut of Manchester City, will be to keep refreshing the team with young hungry players.

#Ep33 of The Red Nets Podcast: Diaz’s debut, Elliott’s return, Mane to La Liga?… and more!

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