Liverpool supporters look fondly on Michael Edwards’ tenure at the head of the club’s recruitment structure, even if the former Sporting Director ended his 11-year association with the club at the end of last season for reasons—similar to his unique approach in the role—that remain inscrutable.
Most fans will pinpoint Edwards’ formidable partnership with manager Jurgen Klopp as the catalyst that drove a trophy-laden period of rejuvenation for the Reds. A critical part of the now-43-year-old’s success was due his data-driven decision-making, as well as the decisive, novel strategies he used in executing transfers into and out of the club.
However, it has now also been revealed that the key to some of Edwards’ most sizeable coups—think the Premier League record sale of Philippe Coutinho, or the decisive swoops for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Alisson Becker—came down to a particularly critical tactic, according to ex-Liverpool player, Jamie Carragher.
“Liverpool have been sort of famed for the last four or five years for being great in the transfer market,” Carragher explained speaking on the 90 Minutes with Neville Southall podcast.
“Being ahead of the curve if you like, getting players, going under the radar in terms of press speculation.
“I spoke to [Edwards] two or three years ago and he said the biggest thing for them was the relationship with agents.
“Whether that’s speaking to them, financially—I’m sure that plays a big part—I think that’s common knowledge.
“It was just startling, really.
“I also spoke to Alex Inglethorpe, who is head of the academy at Liverpool” Carragher continued. “And players at that age were getting agents.
“He said the agent isn’t just the agent anymore. He plays the role of everybody – four or five people.
“He’s the father figure, he’s the agent—that’s his job—he’s the sounding board, he’s the best friend in some instances – where a player’s moving around the world, he loses contact a little bit with family and friends.”
“The advice from the agent to the player about where he needs to go, I think is paramount.
“I got it from the gospel’s mouth, if you like, from Liverpool, who were seen as great in the transfer market. That was the biggest thing he said to me.”
It is an explanation that is simple but that makes perfect sense. Agents do not have the best reputation in the game, but as the gatekeepers to football talent, getting on their good side is a necessary evil that Liverpool’s legendary ex-Sporting Director was clearly an expert at doing.
What are the chances Mikey Edwards is available to pop round Kirby over the next few weeks to find us a midfielder or three?