Every candidate linked with Liverpool sporting director role so far

Jurgen Klopp's shock exit announcement has dominated the headlines since the end of last week (and rightly so), but the manager is not the only key position the Liverpool ownership need to replace this summer.

It has also been confirmed that interim sporting director Jorg Schmadtke will not be continuing in his role beyond the January window, with the Reds now seeking a new permanent successor to Julian Ward.

Schmadtke, who came out of retirement last year to become a self-proclaimed 'assistant' to Klopp, helped oversee Liverpool's midfield rebuild, securing deals for Dominik Szoboszlai, Watru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.

The role of the sporting director is arguably as crucial to a club's success as the manager, with the role responsible for helping set the philosophy of the team as well as heading the recruitment and squad planning.

According to the Telegraph, Liverpool are "likely to appoint a new sporting director in advance of the final decision on the successor to Klopp" with the process to be led by FSG president Mike Gordon and owner John Henry.

There have already been several names mentioned to follow on from Schmadtke's brief tenure. Here are the men linked so far:

Richard Hughes

Former Premier League midfielder Hughes was first linked to the Liverpool sporting director's gig by Gianluca Di Marzio.

The 44-year-old is currently working in a similar role at Bournemouth, a club he also represented as a player before retiring in 2014.

A five-cap Scotland international, Hughes grew up in Italy and spent time in Atalanta's academy before moving back to the UK, where he featured for Portsmouth as well as the Cherries.

He was once head-butted by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007, earning the then Manchester United superstar a red card. However, more recently he is better known as the man who has helped oversee a series of shrewd signings at Bournemouth, including Callum Wilson, Dominic Solanke, Tyrone Mings and Lloyd Kelly.

Hughes was also reportedly key in the hiring of manager Andoni Iraola last summer, while is has been reported that he is a friend and close associate of much-loved former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards.

Tim Steidten

Football Insider claim the Reds have 'set their sights' on 44-year-old German Steidten, who is currently the technical director of West Ham.

Also a former midfielder, Steidten joined the Hammers last summer, having previously spent time at Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen, and oversaw a summer window that included the signings of Mohammed Kudus and James Ward-Prowse.

Like Hughes, Steidten is highly regarded and has been linked with some of Europe's biggest clubs before, having played an influential role in helping Leverskuen secure talents such as Florian Wirtz, and Edmond Tapsoba among others.

A former colleague of Xabi Alonso in Germany, he also oversaw the arrivals of Moussa Diaby, who was sold to Aston Villa for £50m last summer, and defender Piero Hincapie, who is a known target for Liverpool.

Michael Edwards

The man who needs no introduction.

Edwards helped to revolutionise the general public's understanding of what a sporting director does (or should do), having initially (and now infamously) been dismissed as a 'laptop boffin' by some sections of the media during his rise to prominence at Liverpool.

The 44-year-old, who oversaw some of the Reds' finest purchases and sales of all time, served as sporting director between 2016 and 2022 and was succeeded by his former assistant Julian Ward.

According to various reports, Liverpool approached Edwards about a return to the club, not directly as a sporting director but a senior role which would allow him to oversee the restructure post Klopp.

However, he is said to have turned the offer down, making a return highly unlikely.

Edwards took a year-long break after departing Anfield and has since launched advisory firm Ludonautics.

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