Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward seals new job ahead of surprise Anfield exit
Julian Ward has been instrumental in Liverpool’s successful transfer deals in recent years but will step down as sporting director after a season in office
Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward has sealed a deal to take on a similar role at Dutch giants Ajax in the summer.
Ward, 41, shockingly announced in November that he would leave Anfield at the end of the season, just months after replacing the hugely successful Michael Edwards in the transfer hot-seat. Before leaving, he has agreed to help Ajax rebuild after the departure of manager Erik ten Hag and several top players last summer.
Ward will officially start work on July 1 after new talks with Ajax boss Edwin van der Sar finally yielded a financial breakthrough.
Van der Sar has been ordered by the Dutch club’s board to restart negotiations after failing with his first approach. Ward has developed a reputation for recruiting players in the game and worked under Edwards at Anfield before moving to a more senior role.
He led Liverpool’s charm offensives for Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez. Ward has a strong network of contacts in South America and also in Portugal where he once scouted for Liverpool.
Ajax are struggling to replace Marc Overmars after sacking the former Arsenal winger following sexual harassment allegations. Ward is tasked with restructuring the scouting department as the Amsterdam club seek to rebuild a team that fell apart when Ten Hag left for Manchester United.
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The Dutchman took Brazilian winger Antony and Argentine defender Lisandro Martinez to Old Trafford. His successor, Alfred Schreuder, was dismissed after just eight months due to poor results.
Money will not be an issue for Ward after Ajax have raked in £500m over the past three years after selling a host of star players. The Eredivisie side are in contention for the title with arch-rivals Feyenoord, whom they host in a crucial game on Sunday.
Ward becomes Ajax’s first foreign sporting director, although 38 of the club’s 50 managers between 1915 and 1965 were English. Vic Buckingham was their last England manager before the legendary Rinus Michels took over.