Snapping up Mo Salah for £39m, parting with just £8m for Andy Robertson… and coaxing £142m out of Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho – Michael Edwards’ best deals at Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp gets set to lose his transfer guru next year
- Michael Edwards has been pivotal in creating the Premier League-winning side
- The sporting director’s deal with the club will run down at the end of the season
- He was responsible for the arrivals of Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane
- Liverpool have funded signings by banking big profits from sales under Edwards
Liverpool’s sporting director Michael Edwards is revered for masterminding some of the club’s most successful transfers since taking over the role in November 2016, but the transfer guru has also excelled at strategically offloading players for sensational fees.
The sporting director has been pivotal in creating a team that ended Liverpool’s 30-year wait for the Premier League and secured their sixth Champions League.
But in a blow to Liverpool, Edwards looks set to leave the club as his deal will run down at the end of the season, and it is reported that he has already informed Anfield chiefs about his decision to step down after several glittering years.
Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards (left, pictured with manager Jurgen Klopp and owners FSG’s president Mike Gordon) will reportedly leave the club next summer
The hallmark of an Edwards Liverpool transfer window is his ability to strategise both the comings and goings at Anfield. He has often sold fringe players to fund the purchases of landmark signings, including Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.
While Liverpool broke the bank to secure the centre back colossus and the goalkeeper, Edwards has garnered recognition for the Reds’ bargain buys.
He has also been key in Liverpool’s strategy of player retention this summer, which has seen the club tie down Van Dijk, Alisson, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and captain Jordan Henderson.
Virgil van Dijk (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) are two of Edwards’ most successful signings
Goalkeeper Alisson’s arrival also helped transform Liverpool into Premier League champions
Naturally, Edwards hasn’t had a perfect track record but the number of successes strongly outweighs the flops.
Takumi Minamino for £7.25m and Naby Keita for £52.75m come to mind as among Edwards’ less successful business ventures but considering they are both Premier League champions they possibly can’t be classed as failures.
As the sporting director appears to enter his final season at Anfield, Sportsmail takes a look at his top buys and top sales.
Naby Keita (left) and Takumi Minamino (right) could be considered among Edwards’ few flops
TOP FIVE BUYS
Andrew Robertson – £8m
The Scotsman joined in July 2017 and is probably hailed as Edwards’ best bargain to date.
Having been recently relegated with Hull City, Liverpool saw great potential in the young player and snatched him up for a mere £8m.
It took Robertson a few months to settle into the Anfield side and gain Jurgen Klopp’s trust but he has become virtually an ever-present member of the squad over the past three seasons.
The Scotland captain has swiftly developed into one of the top-flight’s best left backs and a crucial part of the Reds’s Premier League and Champions League winning campaigns – missing just six league games since 2018, and registering 12 assists as the Reds won their first league title for 30 years in 2019-20.
His £8m price tag now looks like pennies as his market value has increased many times over.
Andrew Robertson’s £8m move from Hull in 2017 is possibly Edwards’ greatest bargain buy
Mohamed Salah – £39m
Edwards’ first signing of his first summer window at the helm of Liverpool’s transfers is arguably his best.
Salah registered 28 goal involvements for Roma in the previous season but his hit-and-miss record at Chelsea led some pundits to tout him as a one-hit wonder.
Now, however, his £39m fee has more than paid for itself.
Hailed as the Egyptian King by the Anfield faithful, Salah has terrorised opposition with his pace and wicked finishing.
Salah scored on his debut for the Reds and never looked back. The 29-year-old scored 32 goals that season, winning the Golden Boot award and breaking the record for the most goals in a 38 game Premier League season.
The Egyptian has become the quickest Liverpool player to reach 50 goals and the club’s all-time top Champions League goalscorer, just to name a couple of his accolades.
Now hailed as the Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah (right) signed for £39m from Roma in 2017
Edwards hadn’t yet filled the position of sporting director when Mane arrived at Anfield but the Englishman’s influence was already pretty strong as Liverpool conducted their summer business in 2016.
The transfer guru was technical director at the time having assumed the position in July 2015 and became sporting director mere months after Mane’s signing.
The Senegalese’s £30m fee was scoffed at when Liverpool signed him from Southampton in 2016 but five years later that sum seems like peanuts.
The 29-year-old has formed part of Liverpool’s formidable frontline alongside Roberto Firmino and Salah. His magnetic footwork, hardiness on the ball and attacking prowess have made him indispensable to Klopp and his achievements with the club have caused his value to rocket far above the £30m the Reds splashed out.
Fabinho – £43.7m
One of Edwards’ most understated signings, Fabinho’s arrival at Anfield went relatively unheralded in 2018.
Already renowned as one of Europe’s top defensive midfielders during his time at Monaco, the Brazilian was the missing puzzle piece in Klopp’s engine room.
Fabinho provided a solid defensive base in midfield that allowed Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum to drive and build forward momentum fitting to Klopp’s aggressively attacking style.
The 27-year-old has not only excelled for the Reds in midfield but has also rescued the side from the backline. Fabinho had to be deployed at centre back last season amid an unprecedented injury crisis that derailed Liverpool’s title defence.
The utility man signed a new five-year deal this summer, proving just how much the Reds boss and Edwards value his role at the club.
Both Sadio Mane (left) and Fabinho (right) have become indispensable members of the team
Diogo Jota – £41m
Another swift swoop for the sporting director, Jota arrived last September for £41m as part of a double arrival alongside Thiago.
The deal had Wolves fans claiming they had ripped off the Merseyside club but the Portugal international swiftly proved them wrong.
The Reds already had an established and elite attacking trident of Salah, Firmino and Mane, yet Jota somehow managed to edge his way into the frontline.
The 24-year-old recorded 13 goals in 30 appearances across all competitions last season, quickly becoming a fan favourite among Kopites.
He followed his debut season with an explosive start to the 2021-22 campaign, bagging a goal in Liverpool’s opener at Carrow Road and another in their first home game of the season against Burnley.
Jota offers Klopp incredible versatility in attack. Despite usually playing on the left, the Portuguese international has played in all positions across the front three.
Diogo Jota (left) arrived in September 2020 for £41m from Wolverhampton Wanderers
TOP FIVE SALES
Philippe Coutinho – £142m
One of Liverpool’s greatest ever transfer deals came when Edwards and co coaxed £142m out of Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.
At the time, the move was a bitter one, as the midfielder forced his way to Barcelona and the Reds sourly lamented the loss of their Brazilian magician.
Now, it is safe to say the deal feels a little sweeter for Liverpool. Without the £142m cash flow, Liverpool wouldn’t have been able to bring in Van Dijk or Alisson, whose immediate impacts sent the Reds on their way to Premier League and Champions League glory.
Meanwhile, Coutinho has flopped at the Nou Camp and become an outcast, having been stripped of his No 14 this summer and spending the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.
Liverpool banked £142m for Barcelona outcast Philippe Coutinho, who pushed for the move
Kevin Stewart – £8m
Liverpool picked up Stewart for free in 2014 after his release from Tottenham. However, it wasn’t until three years and several loan spells later that Edwards worked his magic with the defensive midfielder.
After failing to establish himself in Klopp’s squad, Stewart completed an £8m move to Hull City in July 2017.
That same day Robertson arrived from the Tigers for the same fee. Stewart’s deal can be thanked for funding Liverpool’s move for the left back who can now be considered as one of the best in the world.
Dominic Solanke – £19m
As a Chelsea academy graduate, Solanke’s free transfer to Liverpool upon the expiry of his contract at Stamford Bridge in 2017 seemed to be a steal.
The Reds only had to part with £3m as a compensation fee in the transaction and the youngster appeared to have a bright future under Klopp, who has a reputation for developing players into world-class stars.
However, Solanke’s Anfield career never really took off. The 23-year-old only scored one goal in 27 appearances for the Reds.
Despite a less than enticing track record, Bournemouth were still prepared to fork out £19m for the striker.
Liverpool didn’t hesitate to offload the fringe player and pocket a £16m profit that would go on to fund a busy summer of business for the Reds.
The sales of Kevin Stewart (left) and Dominic Solanke (right) funded the Reds’ signings
Rhian Brewster – £23.5m
Another former Chelsea academy product, Brewster joined Liverpool at the age of 14 in 2015 on a free transfer.
Upon his arrival at the club, Brewster was touted as a hot young prospect for the Reds. However, the 21-year-old only really excelled during his stint at Anfield while on loan to Swansea City in the 2019-20 season.
He scored 11 goals in 22 appearances for the Championship side after joining the Swans in the January window, following his recovery from an ankle injury.
Liverpool secured £23.5m for the academy graduate last summer after Sheffield United broke their club record to bring the striker to Bramall Lane, despite the England Under-17 World Cup winner making only four first-team appearances.
Mamadou Sakho – £25.38m
The Sakho saga is a well documented one. From failing a UEFA drugs test to explosive fallings out with Klopp to being sent home early from the Reds’ stateside pre-season tour in 2016, the centre back experienced a rollercoaster career at Liverpool.
The strain between the manager and the defender became apparent when Klopp made a tongue-in-cheek remark on Sakho’s lateness for the flight to the US while on tour.
It quickly became apparent that the Reds boss would not tolerate ill-discipline in his squad and Sakho had well and truly overstepped the mark.
Sam Allardyce came to Klopp’s rescue when the then Crystal Palace boss called upon Anfield’s unwanted man for a loan spell in the 2016-17 campaign.
The stint at Selhurst Park was enough to convince the Eagles boss to sign Sakho permanently for £25.38m.
The fact that Edwards still managed to bank so much for the Frenchman while Liverpool were on the verge of desperation to shift him, makes the deal one of the sporting director’s most impressive to date.
Both Rhian Brewster (left) and Mamadou Sakho (right) fetched more than £20m for Edwards
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